Time to give back to welcoming city

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. Today, Luisa Girao puts the questions to Invercargill City mayoral candidate Becs Amundsen.

Becs Amundsen
Becs Amundsen

Becs Amundsen

Age: 41
Occupation: City councillor and event organiser
Council experience: Six years as city councillor and two as deputy mayor
Describe yourself in three words: Proven, dedicated and real

After being embraced by Invercargill 18 years ago, mayoral candidate Becs Amundsen is ready to return the favour to her community.

The mother of two moved from Oamaru to Invercargill at the age of 23 so her partner could study at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).

Feeling Invercargill was a place with a lot of opportunities she decided to establish permanent roots in the city.

Having found it difficult to work with the council while involved in the Glengarry Rejuvenation Project in 2010-11, she decided to become part of it.

Following an ''apprenticeship'' as councillor and deputy mayor, she thinks she has what is necessary to ''provide the much needed leadership in the city''.

Why are you standing for mayor?

I have two reasons. The first is to give back to the community. We moved to Invercargill in 2001 because of the SIT Zero Fees ... We were a young family, we had no idea what we wanted to do with our life and we got the opportunity to do all the things we ever wanted here. I really feel I owe Invercargill.

The other reason is because I believe I'm a good leader and we need a strong leadership in the city going forward. We have a lot of changes coming up and it's a different kind of situation to what we had before. I think I will be good at it.

What are the key challenges the council will face next year?

I think we need a serious upskilling at the council when it comes to governance. Councillors and the mayor all need to get better at their jobs. I also think the management of the inner-city block redevelopment is going to be a huge pressure on council. We need to work really hard to make sure it does not have a negative impact on the rest of the city.

The region is facing a housing crisis. What could be done to alleviate the pressure?

South Invercargill is where we have a lot of land, but developers don't want to develop there because it is not so profitable to them. I think we need to provide incentives to people to build there.

I also think we need to look to our district plan to work out how and where in North Invercargill we can develop more housing for the higher-end market. The housing problem is from one end to other - it's from housing for low social economic people through to the wealthy people. So we need to address the problem from multiple angles.

What do you think the previous mayor [Sir Tim Shadbolt] has done right and what would you do differently?

Well, you can't deny that Tim has done well to promote Invercargill nationally. I think my strength lies in leadership. I have the skills and could prove this through the work that I've done in the community. Also, when I was appointed deputy mayor, it was because we needed a stronger leadership at the council and I was identified by fellow councillors as somebody that could do that.

What is the one thing you would like to achieve by the end of your next term?

Getting some runs on the board with housing and getting on the road to having solved this problem. I also would like to build up a strong team in the council. I don't think we all need to agree on everything, but I still think that we need to be able to be a team and work together.

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