Stratford voters have a choice of three candidates for mayor this year.

Over the next few weeks, the three candidates, Rawinia Henderson, Graham Kelly and Neil Volzke, will answer a range of questions set by the Stratford Press editorial team.

Their answers will run online and in print.

To hear the candidates speak and answer more questions, come along to the Newstalk ZB and Stratford Press Meet the Candidates evening on September 18 at the Stratford War Memorial Centre at 7pm.

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This week, we asked the three candidates the following questions:

1. What is your personal / professional / governance experience, and how does that make you the most qualified candidate to serve as mayor?

2. What is the most wasteful expense in Council's budget at the moment, and what would you do to address that problem?

Rawinia Henderson is running for the mayoralty and a seat in the Urban Ward.
Rawinia Henderson is running for the mayoralty and a seat in the Urban Ward.

What is your personal / professional / governance experience, and how does that make you the most qualified candidate to serve as mayor?

Rawinia Henderson:
I'm a rate payer who has lived in this area all of my life. I am a mother who cares about the community in which my children grow up in. I have worked in the healthcare system my entire working life and have a very deep understanding of what our people have to go through to receive adequate care for themselves and their loved ones. I have lived within my rural community for decades and see the inside struggles our farmers have to face and mostly in isolation from the outside world. You don't need a PhD to guide a town into prosperity, just a person willing to stand and try. What Mayor is ever ready or experienced in their first term?

Rural councillor, Graham Kelly, is running for the top job this year as well as a seat in the rural ward.
Rural councillor, Graham Kelly, is running for the top job this year as well as a seat in the rural ward.

Graham Kelly:

Eighteen years as both an urban and rural councillor, and as an executive member.

It doesn't make you more or less qualified,it only makes you more determined to do it better.

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Current mayor Neil Volzke announced his intention to stand for re-election in early May this year.
Current mayor Neil Volzke announced his intention to stand for re-election in early May this year.

Neil Volzke:

During my 10 years as Stratford District Mayor, I've gained a broad knowledge and understanding of how local and national governance works. This background helps hugely to fulfil the Mayoral duties.

Experience is something you can't buy and is a must for any person in a senior leadership role. My ability to relate to the views of the community is a vital trait that I am totally committed to and I will endeavour to engage with the community at every opportunity. The Mayoral role is challenging and variable with new issues presenting every day; this requires an informed, balanced approach, which I offer.

My professional qualification as a radiographer may not be relevant to the Mayor's job, but it does reflect my interest in health and the general wellbeing of people. This transfers into the other governance roles I have representing the Stratford community on the Taranaki Regional Land Transport Committee, Taranaki Civil Defence Management Committee and the Mayoral Forum.

It was also my privilege in 2016, to be appointed by the Minister of Health to the Taranaki District Health Board as Deputy Chairman. I view this as an extension of my Mayoral duties and as a representative for Stratford.

Rawinia Henderson is running for the mayoralty and a seat in the Urban Ward.
Rawinia Henderson is running for the mayoralty and a seat in the Urban Ward.

What is the most wasteful expense in Council's budget at the moment, and what would you do to address that problem?

Rawinia Henderson:
Did not answer this question.

Rural councillor, Graham Kelly, is running for the top job this year as well as a seat in the rural ward.
Rural councillor, Graham Kelly, is running for the top job this year as well as a seat in the rural ward.

Graham Kelly:

Personally the greatest waste,financially, is the reconstruction of the country roads ripped up by the forestry ,owners, contractors,trucking firms.

I would address it by looking to introduce a levy.

Current mayor Neil Volzke announced his intention to stand for re-election in early May this year.
Current mayor Neil Volzke announced his intention to stand for re-election in early May this year.

Neil Volzke:

The most wasteful expense, in a single word – compliance.

The costs associated with compliance are ridiculous and in my view often have very little tangible benefit for our ratepayers. Unfortunately we are locked into a system that requires council to always meet its legal obligations, but at times there are options to minimise the compliance costs and I will continue to question the value delivered.

The cost of compliance and the indistinguishable, unfunded tasks central government imposes upon councils are a huge financial burden on us all.

As ratepayers, we are the ones who are ultimately called upon to foot the bill as these compliance costs permeate through all councils fees and charges.

It is important that we continue to voice our concerns when new costs are being signalled and advocate strongly for our ratepayers who are already burdened with these costs.

The proposed changes to national drinking water standards and the additional monitoring requirements are perfect examples.

Both will undoubtedly come with a significant extra expense, but with no funding provided, to improve the water quality that is already safe to drink in our District, at least.