In our Special Election Edition of BayBuzz Digest, now in distribution, BayBuzz puts forward a First Fifteen Change Team for your consideration. Here they are:
Wayne Bradshaw (Havelock ward): No HDC candidate standing more deserves to be elected; no current Councillor is more persistent in pressing for financial prudence and transparency, or in raising the question “Is there a better way?”
Adele Mohi-McGoverin (Havelock ward) Havelock North needs to raise the bar on its other representation at Council; someone who will stay close to her constituency, emphasize basic services, be present, and actively participate around the Council table, where policy is made.
Simon Nixon (Hastings ward): he speaks for a sizable constituency; and if he loses for Mayor, he should still be at the Council table raising tough questions for his “back to the basics” constituency.
John Roil (Hastings ward): a solid, successful, independent-minded business voice; through his many dealings with Council, knows what needs to be fixed; a major upgrade in Councillor quality.
Sandra Hazlehurst (Hastings ward): the champion of Hastings CBD; will bring needed marketing savvy to the Council; ready to break some molds; knows the Council “system” and would hit stride quickly.
David Mackintosh (Kahuraniki ward): committed to spending restraint and a “back to the basics” role for Council; knows the rural community well; a straight shooter; strong on the environment … a great package.
Tracee Te Huia (Flaxmere ward): just what Flaxmere needs, a savvy and seasoned senior manager who can fight the “inside the Council” battles, complementing Henare O’Keefe’s values and vision; her professional knowledge of health issues and community partnering brings a needed dimension to Council.
Des Ratima (Heretaunga ward): a born leader; military service; thoroughly conversant with Council issues through his HDC/Maori Committee Chairman role; contributes tirelessly to the community at many levels; and committed to the environment. These qualities would make Des a superb Councillor.
I also support Des Ratima for Mayor of Hastings. He stands for values I believe in and has abilities I admire – he champions the social well-being of our community; he is a sophisticated, bridge-building representative of Maoridom; he has a deep, spiritual connection to the environment; he’s tireless; he has big ideas that don’t involve building edifices; he marries conceptual and practical thinking; and he meets the most genuine test of leadership – he inspires people to follow him.
He is my First Fifteen Team Captain.
Napier City Council
Maxine Boag (Nelson Park ward): a dedicated community leader, active in Grey Power, the Marenui Community Council, and Napier Rotary; but isolated in the current Council … needs some friends!
Robin Gwynn (At-large): former Councillor; has served as trustee of the Eastern and Central Community Trust, the Napier Community House, Radio Kidnappers, and on the Hawke’s Bay Trust for the Elderly; strong advocate on health issues.
Michelle Pyke (At-large): twenty years of experience at every level of community development; skilled team-builder and communicator; hands-on knowledge of the “people issues” that need representation; would be a force to be reckoned with at the Council table.
HB District Health Board
Jeannette Samundsen: offers a strong business background (make no mistake, while human welfare is at stake, health care is a ‘big business’ facing tremendous financial pressures); a history of community involvement; and – as a provider of age-related residential care, respite and day care services in the region – brings insight into care for the elderly to the table … a significant advantage given the rate at which HB’s population will age over the coming years.
HB Regional Council
Liz Remmerswaal (Hastings ward): in my opinion, the only “dyed-in-the-wool” environmentalist on the Council now; consistent in her support of the environment, not opportunistically so, like several of her fellow incumbents; a reliable protector of our precious water.
Tim Tinker (Napier ward): former farmer and produce marketer; someone with practical knowledge of land and water issues needs to represent the Napier constituency; as an experienced hearings commissioner, he can apply his knowledge to fixing the HBRC consenting process, which he recognizes is seriously broken.
Tom Belford (Hastings ward): I will carry forward my proven “outside” advocacy for HB’s environment to a voting role at the Council table, insisting on integrating environment and economic growth objectives; as the only candidate with professional marketing experience, will provide leadership in promoting sustainable growth in Hawke’s Bay.
You can read BayBuzz profiles on most of these candidates here.
Time for Change
I have no idea whether it will occur, but I hope this election is about change.
In Hastings, a return to the basics. In Napier, a renewed commitment to look after the social well-being of the community. At the Regional Council, a wake-up call that more needs to be done – and more urgently – to protect our environment.
Change surrounds us, and the pace of change steadily quickens. Yet our Councils seem to be functioning on auto-pilot. Councils budget with a built-in assumption that their spending will grow … an assumption no business or household can make in today’s economy. Council borrowing increases steadily because there’s effectively no brake on the process. Decision-making that requires urgency, like more precautionary water management, moves at glacial pace. Slowly developing trends, like the graying and browning of the region’s population, or global warming, are more noted in passing than acted upon.
Part of the reason is that our Councils – our Councillors – have become too comfortable and set in their ways. The “same old, same old” is easy … no heavy lifting required. Whereas change requires energy, curiosity, homework, risk, breaking molds.
Out of 37 individuals, including two mayors, currently serving on the Hastings, Napier and Regional Councils, only five are not seeking re-election. Four are standing unopposed. Of the remaining 28, sixteen have already served at least three terms.
Our Councils suffer from institutional arteriosclerosis. They’re old, stiff, lethargic and fat at the waist. They get winded easily. Unfortunately, unlike with humans, the institutional condition is infectious.
That’s why BayBuzz has focused primarily on challengers. I naturally lean toward new faces in making recommendations for you to consider … the BayBuzz First Fifteen Change Team. I’ve listened to these individuals discuss the issues, read all of their online materials, watched most of them “in action” in other roles, and talked to many other people about them.
On that basis, I’ve made some recommendations, and they are simply that … the candidates who most impress me in terms of being potential change agents.
Yes, three of the First Fifteen are incumbent Councillors ending their first term. Each one – Wayne Bradshaw on HDC, Maxine Boag on Napier Council, and Liz Remmerswaal on HBRC – has been virtually isolated on their respective Councils, picking up the occasional supporter here and there, but effectively marginalised. Not because their ideas are unsound; but because they run against the grain.
I am hopeful that after this election, each will enjoy more reliable support from the others I urge you to consider.
Two questions might arise. Isn’t it the job of BayBuzz to remain ‘objective’ about such matters? And, who gives a hoot about what Baybuzz thinks anyway?!
To the first question. BayBuzz has always been a vehicle for investigating, interpreting and prodding. As editor, I’ve worn my ‘biases’ on my sleeve – our environment needs better protection; our councils need to manage our rates dollars more prudently; their decision-making needs more scrutiny and transparency; we need to ‘raise the bar’ for councillor performance; and we need more innovative thinking and to act more like a region to successfully meet the biggest challenges ahead. And the response to BayBuzz indicates many others feel the same way.
As we follow these issues, we inevitably watch the ‘players’ in action. Our issue concerns are given higher priority or are more effectively addressed by some than others. In fact, it’s impossible to separate the ball from the man (or woman).
Election time is when the connections must be made between issues and individual performance. Yes, I look at the candidates through the lens of the issue concerns noted above; and you will have your own lens, which might or might not have the same focus. None of us will bring “objectivity” to our candidate choices.
To the second question. My perspective on the candidates is based upon three plus years of closely following the issues and the players as Baybuzz editor. Attending hundreds of council meetings, hearings and issue forums. Reading thousands of pages of staff papers and reports, as well as countless submissions and independent expert material. Interacting with councillors, staff, community leaders and concerned members of the public on a daily basis. Digesting all this across three councils (HDC, HBRC, NCC). And trying to make some sense of it all for BayBuzz readers.
I hope you might find that perspective informed and useful as you weigh the candidates over your dining table. Add it to any other information you have at hand. Draw your own conclusions, and whatever you do … VOTE!