The Stratford Press sent all the candidates for the Stratford District Council a set of questions last month.
We have been printing the questions we asked, with the answers received from the candidates, in the paper and online.
Check out our Facebook page to see video footage of our Meet the Candidates night last Wednesday.
This week, candidates answer:
1. Give one initiative you would push for if elected - what is it and why?
2. Do you think Council has performed well in the past three years? Why / why not?
Candidates answer (in reverse alphabetical order):
1. I would continue to encourage projects that are under way to build our unique identity. Our Shakespeare theme is an exciting one and much can be achieved without huge expenditure.
2. Reflecting on the past three years I think Council has been a high achiever.
Positive examples include the Pembroke sub-division, the exciting proposed pool complex and children's bike park planning, the library update and wastewater treatment upgrades.
Funding and expenditure have been diligently managed and fairness to ratepayers has been a paramount consideration.
1. On a whole I think Stratford district council is doing a pretty good job, I would like to ensure that we continue heading on the right track.
One initiative I would like to see is less unnecessary regulations and policies.
2. Yes I believe the council has done a pretty good job in the three years. I think the new subdivision off Pembroke road was a great idea as we currently have a shortage of sections in Stratford yet no shortage of people wanting to build, however, I would like to see projects move more efficiently.
1. I would like to see a push for more accessibility and accountability of council and greater engagement with the community. Give the residents a voice, and lend them an ear.
2. There's always room for improvement, that's not to say anyone has done a particularly bad job. There are things I certainly agree with, but ultimately things like safety, moral and ethical accountability shouldn't be limited by economic ideals.
1. We need to attract more doctors to our town and council can help in this role. It is a major problem for our community finding a doctor to go to and we need to help address that.
2. Council has performed very well.
The subdivision was important and needed. We needed to do it as no one else would take on the job of developing as we are a small council.
We provide outstanding service to our ratepayers.
We have great staff and CEO and we work well as a team to get the best for our ratepayers.
1. A better and fair rate system, at present so much of our weighted rate system is based on paying for services and goods supplied that we do not always share or use equally.
At a time that people, communities and countries are pushing for less waste and better utilisation of natural resources, our council can be putting in place strategies and systems that allow savings on rates and less waste along with better use of natural resources.
2. Currently our council hasn't changed much in the last decade or so it's time we challenged what we have done, look forward to what we can do, and not necessarily think what we are doing is all we can do.
1. There is not one area in particular that I will be pushing for. I want to provide a voice and a well-rounded view on what we can achieve for the Stratford District.
I will certainly be paying particular attention to our much longer term plans to ensure that Stratford continues to be a great place to live for all generations in many years to come.
2. ? I have only recently moved back into the district, after being in New Plymouth for 11 years so I do not have great knowledge on the performance of the council and do not have a solid opinion here.
If elected I will be spending a great amount of time understanding the challenges for performance and also the areas that we can continue to improve on.
1. Look to bring more businesses to town by having less rates and making it more appealing for them to come here with a council that works with them and provide a great place for them to bring staff by providing good amenities and a strong community.
2. The council has tread water, it needs more energy to make progress but balance that with a fiscal responsibility to rate payer, so need to be leading in innovation.
1. Rubbish: on every street and road in our lovely province there is far too much litter. Our schools are all leading the way with zero rubbish on their grounds.
Lets get on board with all schools in our area and every second or third Sunday of the month have a litter collection day with councillors and pupils of each school.
2. No, we can always do better.
1. I have no particular agenda.
2. Generally most people in Stratford seem to be happy with the way things are running. Would need more time and detailed information before I could make a full judgement on this.
1. I am still keen to see cycle ways and walkways around the district and also to get the Region linked, for example a round the Mountain cycle track.
This would provide for tourism and fitness and health for our community.
2. I believe Council has performed very well.
I believe we have acted for the residents achieving the best outcomes with the resources available.
The town is growing in population with a lot of interesting projects under way.
We have made the correct decisions with regard to infrastructure. with the money available.
1. Signing onto the LGNZ Climate Change declaration.
We are one of the few councils in NZ, and only in Taranaki, which has yet to sign onto it. It forces no action on us, makes no actual commitment but is an important first step to highlight the importance of the issue and signals to central government that changes in how local government works need to be made so that we can begin to address the problem and prepare for the cost of it on our communities.
2. I have immense respect for the incumbents.
However as a young person who sees their future in Stratford I have not felt that our council is addressing the issues facing our future.
Furthermore our democracy and transparency of governance needs some real work.
It is no good developing plans and having meetings if we don't bring the community along with us and if they don't understand how decisions were made.
1. I would ask the council to formally support the RMA.
What are we doing as a community for climate change?
The four cornerstones of my campaign are simple.
Hinengaro – Healing the way we think as a community, Tinana – We heal the body of our community, Whānau – We build on the bonds of our community which is the prime support system, Wairua – We heal the spirit of our community.
We take care of these, then the land will prosper also.
2. Like anything in life, performance can always be improved but acknowledged for its efforts.
1. It would be difficult for me to answer as a new candidate as I am not fully informed with all current initiatives but I would like to investigate a better return for rates paid by rural ratepayers.
2. Yes, I believe they have performed well.
There is a number of exciting projects evolving within the Stratford District which are a credit to the current councillors and staff.
1. I'd like to see more money being spent with local businesses in the district, with some initiatives to assist in building on keeping money and generating jobs in the local economy.
2. Yes I think the incumbents have performed well, there is a real vibrancy to the district and the future looks very positive in the area. I've also been impressed with a number of micro level events in the area that help build a real community spirit.
1. I would like to get the Council to convince the Central Government to re-open the rail line between Stratford and Taumaranui.
Stratford basically died with the closing of this line.
We need this and Taranaki-wide rail passenger and light freight service during the day with heavy freight at night.
We are the only country closing the rail services instead of utilising it. Employment will follow.
2. Yes. Since Neil Volzke became mayor we have enjoyed a smooth running common sense approach running Council. Let's keep it that way.
1. I would like to see a raised platform in the Prospero Place / Broadway development. I envisage that this would enhance the view of the Glockenspiel across Broadway (the sound system is being upgraded soon) and would also have a good view towards the mountain. It would need to be safe and would need to include wheelchair access and some form of weather protection
2. Council has performed very well over the last three years, even considering the major flood event that stretched the budgets.
Successes include the new Council subdivision being all but ready to go; the sale of the Council farmhouse to reduce debt; and the continual improvement of infrastructure including footpaths, water supply and reduction in waste.
In order to maintain this momentum, we will need to retain a good portion of the current councillors.
1. Why couldn't we have free Wifi in the Stratford CBD?
We want tourism, we want people shopping so why not reward them with something that will cost a little but everyone can enjoy.
2. Did not answer this question.
1. Completion of the Prospero Place precinct and hopefully the proposed private retail development will also be completed.
This will open up a town square making the centre of town attractive and a place for visitors and potential residents to stop, spend money locally and hopefully decide to live here.
2. Overall quite well.
We have made good progress with upgrading or replacing essential infrastructure, almost completed the subdivision, progressed Prospero Place thinking, commenced the swimming pool complex designs and requirements as well as other visitor enhancement projects such as the Discovery Trail and Bike Park.
We have also completed the Long Term Plan and we are part way through a major review of the District Plan.
Rate increases have been kept within acceptable limits. Some progress has been slower than hoped.
1. A push for more spending or more efficiency on rural roads. Rural ratepayers pay a lot in rates and receive little in return.
2. Council has performed well in the last three years, but can still be more efficient in the future.
1. More free community events.
I believe the strength of the community is in our people, when people of all demographics and ethnicity are engaged the town is united.
2. Council has performed very well, but always has room for improvement.
Just have to have a look at the customer satisfaction survey to see how well council is performing.
We have many fantastic projects in the pipe line eg, Subdivision, Pool, Bike Park, Prospero Place, Discovery Trail and of course Shakespeare to name but a few.