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.
All three mayoral candidates attended the Stratford Press Meet the Candidates evening last Wednesday. Video of the event and the candidates speaking is available online on our Facebook page - search for Stratford Press.
This week, we asked the three candidates the following questions:
1. What do you think are the three most important things Stratford should be focusing on in the next 15 to 50 years and why?
2. How many hours a week for you feel the role would need a person to work - how would you balance this with your other commitments?
Community engagement. Participation is the key to active citizenship and gives the community self-responsibility and ownership of the way we conduct our business, our affairs in this district.
Council decisions affect everyone living in our community but what does that look like to Joe living down the road?
We are quick to jump up and down when council don't get it right, but what have we done individually to enhance the mana of our homeland?
I believe this is a full-time position. It would be my understanding that this job demands a person's utmost attention to every detail and dedication to its people.
Stratford's survival depends on visionary councillors,businessmen and women who want it too.
If we have that we have a future.
Look at our mountain
Look at our Shakespearean heritage.
Look at our central location.
As I have stated, to me the position of Mayor is a fulltime position.
Something that we have never had in the past. A total commitment by a totally committed person.
The government's drive to transition away from fossil fuels and achieve zero carbon emissions is already having a huge effect on the way we do things.
This will only increase.
There is an international push on sustainability and environmental issues on a scale we haven't experienced before. Council and our community will need to take up the challenge and ensure we keep up with the play.
How we do that will require community consultation, education, investment and good leadership.
Like many New Zealand councils, Stratford has started on this journey but only in an ad-hoc way. Looking ahead we will need to map out a long term strategy and an action plan to achieve our goals.
Secondly, retaining and growing the population is vital if we are to keep our status as a relevant, desirable place to live and as a prosperous district. A dying, shrinking town will help nobody.
Keeping things affordable, promoting Stratford as a great place to raise a family and being inclusive are the types of things we need to continue to work on.
Thirdly, the central business area needs to be modernised and the abundance of old, earthquake prone buildings need to be significantly refurbished.
In New Zealand all Mayoral positions are deemed to be full-time roles, but this does not mean sitting in the Mayoral office 40 hours per week. In fact that would not be possible and would be very counter productive.
In reality, there is never a time when you are not the Mayor and often there are night and weekend meetings and functions to attend.
Even going to the supermarket or the footy on Saturday usually includes an informal council related discussion with somebody. But I have no complaints, it goes with the job.
Like most Mayors, I have additional roles outside of the Mayoralty. I see these as an extension of my Mayoral duties as they affect Stratford residents who need to be well represented.
This advocacy is a key part of the Mayor's responsibilities.
I am committed to working the hours required to be an effective Mayor and my 100 per cent attendance record at council meetings confirms my commitment.
I have successfully managed my overall commitments in the past and I am able to adjust as needed.
Just like a farmer and many others, I will work the hours required to get the job done.