Reese: Mayoralty or nothing this time
The Nelson Mail is running a series profiling the region's mayoral candidates. We talk to Rachel Reese, who is bidding for the Nelson mayoralty.
RACHEL REESE, 48 She and her partner have three children between them – the two oldest, aged 26 and 24 are grown and in the workforce, the youngest is 16. Resource management consultant and commissioner.
Rachel Reese is making an all-or-nothing bid for re-election to the city council, and has the mayoralty in her sights because she sees it as a natural progression to her work as a councillor.
Three years ago she hedged her bets both ways and stood for mayor and a second term back on council - the latter she succeeded in as the highest-polling candidate.
This time, it's the mayoralty or nothing.
"You get to a point when you know you've reached the ceiling and you realise you've achieved what you can.
"I'm ready for the next challenge. The role of mayor requires 100 per cent commitment. It's a really big, complicated role, but I like complexity and finding a solution to problems."
Ms Reese, an accredited resource consent commissioner who runs her own business providing resource management and mediation services, brings a thoroughness to the council table which has been seen to frustrate others but she makes no apologies for operating by the rule book.
She is also known to be tough, but would like to think that reputation applied to the issues the council dealt with, and not the personalities.
"Local government throws up a lot of problems and a lot of opportunities," she says of the nature of the work.
She doesn't think it's become more complicated in the six years she has been a councillor but it has become faster paced and there is less margin for error, particularly in these continuing challenging financial times.
"We are not past the global financial crisis.
"We're still in its tail and there's not the wriggle room for errors."
Ms Reese says the first thing she would do if elected mayor would be to move quickly to bring the council together, and get to know the strengths and weaknesses of those the community had elected to represent them.
"Nelson is going to have a council table with a number of new councillors.
One thing I believe in very strongly is that the community has decided who will be there and the role of the mayor is to draw out the best of everyone. "The mayor's role is to provide support for that and it's not an easy job."
Ms Reese has already made it clear she would change the way the council operated by bringing back standing committees, which would be headed by chairpersons.
"There's a real disconnect between the council and the public, and part of that is because of the way we do business, which is hard to follow."
Ms Reese would also want to see specific councillors as the point of contact for different communities, such as Nelson north, Tahunanui, Stoke and Victory.
In terms of whether she thinks Nelson has reached its potential, she said it had a lot going for it and that she lived here by choice, but a lot of Nelsonians did not have a choice.
"It's for those people - that's where local government needs to focus."
Ms Reese said she would not be putting her hand up again if she did not enjoy the role.
"We are at a turning point and the next 10 years will be a critical time for Nelson.
"We need a council with a growth perspective. Nelson is a desirable place to live but we can't rest on our laurels." Further details visit rachelreese.co.nz.
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