One of my fellow candidates is currently making a big deal out of positive versus negative campaigning, featuring it in his advertising. Apparently we are all supposed to be swallowing the line that the council is doing a great job and that we should keep on that track. I don't buy that for a second and I'm sure the public don't either!
I have a lot of positive ideas about how we can improve our district and how we can improve what council is doing. I want us to be proud of our council again, because I don't think many of us are at the moment.
I will continue to question statements from any candidate which say that rates are being kept affordable and "we are keeping a lid on rates." These increases over the past three years are FOUR times the rate of NZ inflation (Statistics Dept CPI figures). If you got a 0.9% increase in your superannuation or benefit or if this was the figure used for any pay increase you might have received, then the rates increase of 3.9% this year alone has far outstripped the extra you are receiving. If any candidate can't do this basic maths, they shouldn't be there. I'm not pretending there aren't challenges, but don't pretend all is well.
As for wanting the council to be more responsive, we have some great people working there. We also have some, as does every organisation, who can probably do better. The biggest issue is often the system they have to work in so we need to have a serious look at that and get it working for the ratepayers, not for some unseen bureaucracy. As I said, I want us to be proud of our council and we will only get that when we have a council which is seen to be responsive to ratepayer requests, gives good value for money and provides good customer service.
If that's negative, then I make no apology. Rather, I take up the challenge to make something better from what we have, working closely with a varied group of people and interests to achieve a positive result, just as I did on various projects such as the Oamaru Harbour rejuvenation. I will continue to challenge suggestions that all is fine the way it is, and will instead always be seeking continual improvement. And I'm positive that is what our ratepayers want!