Being a good communicator is the key to being a good mayor, says candidate Ross Church who promises an open door policy if elected.
The 61-year-old classic car enthusiast and business owner, one term Kapiti councillor and tutor in leadership, marketing and business studies, says the biggest issue facing Kapiti is leadership.
‘‘Sadly, our current leaders’ approval rating is a dismal 20 per cent (Dominion Post, Saturday). We need a change, a new style, an openness and transparency that’s sadly lacking at the moment. Current leadership is perceived as dogmatic, even bullying, and doesn’t listen.’’ He said the council seems happy to sort any problems out in ‘‘court’’.
‘‘We need to put people before process, so we don’t ever need to go to court.’’ Other big issues facing the district are amalgamation, the expressway, rates, and economic development.
Mr Church says a willingness to listen to people in times of change is the most important role of mayor. Leaders need to be good communicators and to do that they must listen.
‘‘For the last three years on council I have listened, and voted accordingly, often against the rest of council.’’
Mr Church says if elected he will be ‘‘opening up the mayor’s office’’, a promise he gave when he ran unsuccessfully for mayor three years ago.
‘‘I will make times to sit in the foyer of the council building, so people can come and chat to the mayor. No appointments necessary.’’
He said the strengths he would bring to the job were his ability to explain things and negotiation skills.
Running a classic car business, being a tutor for over 30 years, and a councillor for three years, had provided the right experience.
‘‘I’ve learned what people want, and equally as importantly, what they don’t want. ‘‘That council experience is vital for a mayor of Kapiti.’’
Mr Church says he does ‘‘the right thing. . . as opposed to the easy thing’’.
He believes Kapiti will change hugely over the next three years, with major developments like the expressway and airport development, which he says will bring economic development and tourists, respectively, and more people.
Is Kapiti heading in the right direction?
Yes, change and growth is inevitable. We are no longer a beachside holiday area. We are 40 minutes from the capital city.
We are growing, and may well be a city ourselves within a couple of years. Kapiti has to change to reflect its position.
Should we be waiting to build a dam?
We cannot build the dam in the next three to five years, because we wouldn’t get RMA permission in that time, and we can’t afford to borrow the money, for at least 10 years.
I believe the dam is the next big capital expenditure item for the Kapiti district, and I support extending out the Long Term Plan from 10 years to 20 years, so that we could build a dam into it.
We should take it out of the hands of just the politicians, and make it a community led project, using all the skills in the community.
What is your opinion on fluoridated water?
Dentists tell me that fluoride does a good job on teeth, and removing it will mean more dental problems.
Opponents say it is a poison and should not be in our water.
I can’t comment on the science, as I’m no expert, but, given that fluoride toothpaste and fluoride tablets are available, I would vote to remove fluoride on the basis that people can obtain it if they choose.
What is your position on water meters?
I was the only councillor that voted consistently against water meters.
The reports said we had four or five years before we would get close to using too much river water, if we were careful with our water use.
So I voted against them on the basis that there was no rush, and that we had that time to look at other ideas.
They are finding leaks, so that’s a good thing, and give us the option of charging for excessive water use, possibly a good thing.
A new council can decide whether to use them for a charging regime, or just use them to monitor use and as an education tool.
How do you feel about the level of Kapiti Coast District Council debt?
Debt on its own is not necessarily a bad thing. Most people got into debt when they bought their first home.
Often a mortgage is about four to five times’ income. KCDC debt is about three to four times its income.
Debt for major items, such as the aquatic centre, helps spread the payment over the generations of ratepayers who will use the asset for the next 50 odd years.
It’s the level of debt that is a concern. KCDC has no major projects coming up, has no reason to borrow any more funds than already planned in the LTP and Annual Plan, so the next three years are a time for consolidation. Paying back current debt, is a priority right now.
- Kapiti Observer