With a little more than five months until the Rotorua local body elections, people are already preparing for the battle for the seats around the council table. For councillor candidates, debt and infrastructure seem to be common issues in the lead up to the election, but industry leaders have different ideas. Zizi Sparks takes a look at the big issues for the upcoming election according to ratepayers and industry professionals.

Leaders in business, education, property and youth affairs have differing views on what the key issues facing the council are this election, and how to tackle those issues.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce acting chief executive Bryce Heard said he believed the Lakefront and other big council projects would be key issues as the October election approached.

"We're a tourist town and the Lakefront needs a facelift. If we don't do it we'll lose market share.

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Chamber of Commerce acting chief executive Bryce Heard. Photo / File
Chamber of Commerce acting chief executive Bryce Heard. Photo / File

"[The council has] gone to a lot of trouble to get these things in place and should be getting credit for it. Having said that, we do need to be smart with debt levels and management."

Heard said environmental issues were also becoming more important and not just for the council. He said there should be a focus on environmental sustainability moving forward.

"Access in and out of town, the road out to the airport is also important.

"One other thing is the vacant blocks in the CBD, we need to be doing something about this and trying to retain our CBD to be a precinct."

Professionals McDowell co-owner Steve Lovegrove believed development would be a key election issue.

"We've got a growing population so development is really on the cards for me, including the Te Ngae Rd project.

"As our population grows we're getting more traffic problems. Nationally we have a housing crisis but we also have one here.

"I'd like to see the next council speed up the process of getting those developments under way and new housing areas."

John Paul College head prefects Kuljyot Lall and Anna Douglas. Photo / Supplied
John Paul College head prefects Kuljyot Lall and Anna Douglas. Photo / Supplied

Lovegrove acknowledged the current council was trying to make development happen and said they were doing a good job attracting people to the city.

"But I'd like to see the next council push forward a bit harder and faster on development."

John Paul College head prefects Kuljyot Lall and Anna Douglas said the biggest issues for youth this election were cultural insecurity and the environment.

Kuljyot said the Christchurch attacks had shaken his peers, particularly those in ethnic minorities.

"I feel the council needs to focus on ethnic inclusion and education so we have less fear and ignorance of our multicultural community and instead embrace everyone's differences.

"I would like to see the council host multicultural events which involve the adolescents of our society.

"Having an ethnically diverse representation of council members or board of youth members may be beneficial in promoting cultural perspectives for this."

He said he had noticed a rise in drug and alcohol use among young people and wanted the council to address the ease of access to those.

Anna said lack of care for the environment was an issue globally.

"In Rotorua, if we make a conscious effort to reduce our footprint then we can help change our world for the better."

She said the council could inform people more about how to help the environment or add more rubbish and recycling bins around town.

"Another key issue in Rotorua is that there are many individuals that are homeless. This is a growing issue which needs to change.

"As a community, we should come together to help and support those who are less fortunate than us. I think the council could take further action by providing them with necessities such as food, water and shelter.

"They could also actively start programmes in order to provide them with some sort of funding scheme."

Kaitao Intermediate principal Phil Palfrey said the key issue in his opinion was attendance in Rotorua and the issues around that.

"Anything that can be done to get these kids to school the better. If the kids are not at school they are failing.

"Education is a right and no one should take that away from you."

Palfrey suggested the council celebrates the students who attended school regularly, perhaps with an end of year function.

"To me, it's one of the ways our city could be doing better. We were the first to become bilingual, why couldn't we be the first to stomp out truancy."

Lakes District Health Board chairman Deryck Shaw said he couldn't comment on district council election issues but said the DHB elections would happen at the same time.

"It's important to have people from all around the lakes area, not just Rotorua on the DHB. We need diversity around the table."

Outgoing Lakes District Health Board chief executive Deryck Shaw. Photo / File
Outgoing Lakes District Health Board chief executive Deryck Shaw. Photo / File

Shaw has reached the end of his term limit so can't stand again but said those who stood should have a commitment to the public health system, not just hospitals, be aware of the time commitment, and work as a team.

He said it was important board members had a range of skills too, including financial, legal, and in Māori affairs.