Five candidates are vying for four seats in rural Stratford District Council. Picture/File
In this year’s local elections, five candidates are vying for the four seats available in rural Stratford District Council. There is no election this year for the seat of mayor of Stratford, the
Stratford Māori ward, or Stratford Urban Ward, as in each case, the number of candidates corresponded to the total number of seats available, meaning that these candidates were elected unopposed.
In alphabetical order, the candidates running for the rural ward of Stratford District Council are Steve Beck, Grant Boyde, Amanda Harris, Vaughan Jones and Nicole McDonald.
Voting kits will be delivered to registered voters beginning Friday, September 16 this year, with voting ending at noon on Saturday, October 8. Stratford District Council uses the First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system, which means that the four candidates with the most votes will be elected.
The Stratford Press contacted all applicants by email on Wednesday August 24, giving them a list of 12 questions to answer by noon on Friday August 26. They were asked to limit each answer to 100 words. Their answers to these questions will be published in Stratford Press over the next few weeks as the election approaches. Their answers will also be available online a few days before their publication in the paper edition, for our Premium subscribers.
One candidate was unable to respond within the original deadline due to family bereavement, however, he has now submitted his answers to the remaining questions and as such is now included.
This week, the candidates answer questions about their experience with governance, te reo Māori and the introduction of the targeted road rate aimed at properties with substantial forest plantation.
Question: What governance experience do you have?
I have operated my own successful businesses since 1985 (agriculture, trucking, sawmill and farm supplies, engineering/fabrication shop). I also served as a deacon and elder in a local church for many years.
Many years of directorships, board appointments, committees and training courses. Six years on council, Chairman of the Farm and Airfield Committee and council appointed role in policy and planning on Taranaki Regional Council.
I served a term as a councilor as well as many years of involvement in various community organizations.
Served on the Toko School Board and Fundraising Committee for 10 years. Secretary/Treasurer of Toko Rugby Club for eight years. Nine years as Secretary/Treasurer at the Stratford Golf Club and I am currently completing my first term on Stratford Council as a Rural Councillor.
I have served on several club committees as a member and secretary, and I also own and manage a successful real estate business and farming operation.
Question: We are seeing the reintroduction of te reo Māori into many areas of New Zealand society, do you think local government has a role to play in this and what do you think Stratford District Council should to do or not to do about it?
I think councilors need to weigh and balance the response to te reo Māori for everyone in Stratford, and the response needs to be proportionate to the number of Māori who make up our community. It cannot just be a ‘feel good’ thing to do, it must honor and embrace Maori and non-Maori. This next term will see a Maori representative be part of the decision-making process. I believe we can have an honest discussion about a way forward that better encompasses our entire community.
Local government certainly has a role to play in this and the council currently has training and processes in place to address this.
Local government and local councils are able to make a specific Maori te reo connection with their communities. I believe this allows them to make it local, provide space for iwi to share their stories, and recognize te reo alongside English to foster better understanding.
Some – all languages are about communication. If the message is not received or understood, it will not achieve its purpose.
I think it is great that as a district council we are embracing our native New Zealand language as it is part of our heritage, but we also have to remember some members of the community who have not no understanding or knowledge of te reo Māori and still need English to function in a bilingual community.
Question: Council recently introduced a targeted road rate aimed at properties with significant forest plantations. This is an attempt to recover some of the specific costs incurred from damage to local roads as a result of forestry work. Do you support this tariff and why/why not/what would you do instead?
I do not support the current proposal. Sometimes the solution is found by looking at a situation from a different angle to find a way forward that doesn’t target that industry alone. Taking the example of an average dairy farm, approximately 9,000 tanker truck movements would occur over a 30-year period, which is the time it takes for a forest to grow and operate. This equates to around 270,000 tonnes of logs, but dairy farmers are not charged for this. There has to be a fair way for the whole industry. I think further discussion is needed with the parties involved.
I totally agree with the target rate. Over the past five years, all ratepayers have paid nearly $1.5 million for unplanned emergency rehabilitation work, which has taken away funding for planned road expenses. It is not a sustainable model. The targeted rate shifts a small portion of the rate burden to another type of taxpayer, which has been identified as creating the need to increase expenditures that are specifically allocated. This is for roads only, it does not cover the cost of damage to bridges or culverts which taxpayers have also covered.
Yes – I support this rate. Although it does not recover any additional funding for road activities, the rate allows the cost to be more evenly distributed among properties where land use means more road activities and damage.
Yes – I support it. Our rural roads were never designed for the impact of logging trucks. The QV for this land does not take into account the value of the forest. Even all the rates taken over the past 20 years would not cover a fraction of the work that would need to be done to improve and maintain the roads for the impact of logging trucks.
Yes, I support that rate at the moment, but I think there will be better ways in the future to recoup the cost on the roads through technology that could be more targeted, for example through a different RUC for logging trucks and a GPS similar to Fonterra trucks.
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