Emphases placed on representation, clarity

The Otago Daily Times continues its series of profiles of mayoral candidates. Fifteen people say they should be the next mayor of the various district and city councils in the wider Otago-Southland region. To help voters make informed decisions in the 2019 elections, we ask candidates who they are, what they stand for and how they would handle the big issues facing their district. Hamish MacLean puts the questions to the Waitaki District mayoral candidates.

Katrina Hazelhurst
Katrina Hazelhurst
Katrina Hazelhurst

Age: 54.
Occupation: Home renovator.
Council experience: None, thank god.
Describe yourself in three words: Pragmatic, passionate and collaborative.

What makes you the best person to lead the Waitaki District Council for the next three years?

I think the most important thing to have is good leadership skills. The mayor is in a position where they have to be able to ensure that all aspects of the community are fairly represented and get a chance to contribute to the democratic process. I like to research and look at all the facts, and come to conclusions that are well supported by the facts and encourage other people to be part of the discussion. I'm not scared of debate. I'm happy for people to debate issues, because through that debating process a lot of the extreme views get worn down and you end up with good common ground. It takes quite a bit of strength to be able to do that - to get people together, to amalgamate views, to allow vigorous debate and discussion without taking disagreement personally, and to take those ideas through to the other side and have much better solutions because of it.

What is the greatest asset of the Waitaki district?

There are two things that are equally important: one is the beautiful, rugged, natural landscape, that's absolutely stunning, and I think we all feel special and lucky to live in it; and the other thing is the sense of community. I've been travelling right throughout the district over the last couple of weeks, and that love of the landscape and that need for a sense of community is evident everywhere. Not just in Oamaru, but in the small rural townships as well. The natural environment is important, but it's the sense of community that people within the Waitaki have that makes us particularly special.

What is the greatest challenge facing the district and how do you propose we overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges is that some of our infrastructure is failing and in bad need of upgrading, or repairing. It's district wide. There's a lot of problems with roading and we need to have good roads for our economic viability. Similarly, we have other problems here in Oamaru with the harbourside. Some of the wharf structures need to be repaired, they've fallen into disrepair. We've got a fantastic selection of heritage buildings and structures right throughout the district. We absolutely need to be able to preserve them and maintain them. Perhaps one of the solutions may be to look at encouraging private investment in some of these projects, getting businesses on board to help us as a community restore some of these buildings and help out with some of the infrastructure that needs to be repaired.

What would be your top priorities for the next term at council?

Looking after the vulnerable, addressing social issues; we need to look at crime, drug addiction, we need to look at community housing, we need to make sure that our elderly and our young people aren't in isolation and suffering from depression. Many people are frustrated dealing with council and they want clear, consistent processes. That makes it easier, not only for the ratepayers but also for the council staff as well. And finally we need transparency and engagement with the public.

What promise are you able to make Waitaki residents today that you will keep if you are elected as mayor?

Honest, straight-talking governance. That's it.

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