Meet the Geraldine candidates

23:02, Oct 03 2012
geraldine ward candidates
CANDIDATES: McGregor Simpson, Donald Aubrey, Kerry Stevens, Roger Payne

On November 9 the Geraldine ward will have a new councillor on the Timaru District Council.

Four candidates are keen to fill the vacancy left by the sudden death of councillor and district deputy mayor Michael Oliver. Voting papers for the postal vote will be delivered between October 18 and 23.

The Timaru Herald offered the four candidates the opportunity to respond to a series of questions.


Why are you standing?

If given the opportunity I will be an effective representative for the ratepayers of Geraldine ward.


For more than 30 years I have lived here as a self-employed businessman.

In my travels throughout New Zealand, most people comment on how they love Geraldine. It is a town and place that I am passionate about. A vibrant, self-assured community that collectively works exceptionally well together. Geraldine has a bright future.

I look forward to assisting this growing part of the Timaru region by being a strong voice for our community.

What personal qualities do you bring to the council table?

On a personal level I care about people's well-being.

As a councillor I come with a heartfelt desire to assist others.

I have had many years' experience making representation ranging from local issues, all the way through to the office of the prime minister. My experience as former Federated Farmers national vice-president is one of representation without fear or favour.

I enjoy working with others as a team member but I am not afraid to make considered decisions as and when required.

What is your vision for the Geraldine ward?

I look forward to being part of a safe, growing community.

I want to be part of a council that delivers quality service to the ratepayers of this ward.

Sure, the council is obliged to "apply the law". But it can achieve much more than that by understanding the opportunities Geraldine ward faces and actively assisting the community toward those goals.

I want to support current executives in achieving a refreshed district council that is good to work for and even better to work with, one that helpfully provides quality infrastructure in support of the Geraldine ward community.

What is your vision for the Timaru district?

As a rural-based representative I recognise the importance of Timaru city.

While Geraldine is growing Timaru is less fortunate as indicated by the need to drop a council member from the Timaru ward. Fewer ratepayers indicates stagnation, not growth.

This lack of progress by Timaru is no help to Geraldine.

We need to advance together. Timaru has port and other services we need. My vision for Timaru is for an improvement in performance, in part led by a district council with renewed impetus. A declining city cannot support the cost improved infrastructure brings.

Rural ratepayers are in no mood to finance projects that do not demonstrably benefit the whole district. This is not about "them and us". It requires delivery of a shared vision. Council has a key role in delivering strategic assets enabling the return of vibrancy to Timaru.

What will be your hobbyhorse on council?

Improved service by council for Geraldine is important.

But above all, this is about our community. And it is about jobs - not at the expense of our environment, but ensuring there is the opportunity to have the dignity of being able to earn a living. The role of a district council is to give support to that ambition through the provision of supportive infrastructure and as a forum for communities to establish their own goals.

A safe and enjoyable place to live.



Why are you standing?

I have benefited greatly from the local region and have maintained close links with it throughout my national and international career in trade, business and justice development. With great regional empathy, I wish to return home to make a major contribution to the provincial community where I was brought up, initially educated and where I have a farming interest. I am deeply concerned about improving the region's economic performance and social issues with the capability to do something about them. I have two independent children and the time now to devote to the local community.

What personal qualities do you bring to the council table?

I am a known business, trade and justice innovator, formally trained in New Zealand and overseas in management and directorship with much experience in the public and private sectors. I have excellent health.

I was an initiator of, and elected to the foundation board of “Go Geraldine” in 2008 - an organisation aimed at the development and promotion of the whole Geraldine District including the rural communities. An example of my management approach on this board occurred when the Geraldine Netball Club announced its closure after a history of about 60 years due to lack of support. I initiated a strategic planning session with Year 13 students of Geraldine High School which came up with a management plan to restructure the club, resulting in the successful sports club now observable. I also played a leading design and management role in the first “Go Geraldine” community awards event. I am concerned that “Go Geraldine” has not reached anywhere near it's potential.

What is your vision for the Geraldine ward?

As it is likely that the ward system for council voting will remain, the challenge is now is to make it work for the betterment of the Geraldine people. There is concern about the rate take and that Geraldine does not get its fair share of rates expenditure. This suggests that Ward management could be better. Just having a Geraldine voice on the Timaru District Council is not enough alone to produce the desired result. On a proposed council of nine, the voice must be able to effectively persuade and influence at least four other councillors to support Geraldine ward issues. This requires my research, advocacy, lobbying, innovation and management skills long honed in my trade, business and justice career. I would work closely with the community board and the many other organisations, clubs and individuals wishing to make a positive difference in Geraldine ward management.

What is your vision for the Timaru district?

The Government's priority for food export development in regional New Zealand is of particular interest to the economic and social development of the Timaru district. My practical farming and food trade knowledge would enable me to work with the Geraldine, Temuka and Pleasant Point rural communities to deliver this interest. My rural/urban mix in my business career enables me to be a strong advocate for the harmonious, fair management of the rural/urban mix in the whole district.

What will be your hobbyhorse on the council?

Informed, well-researched and debated, well-managed, fair decision-making for the betterment of the Geraldine ward, the rural communities and the district as a whole.



Why are you standing?

I am standing in this by-election as I have extensive local body experience which includes 20 years on the Geraldine Community Board, 3 years Geraldine ward councillor and the local body legal work. As I have sat around the council table I know the procedures and many of the current councillors and staff. It takes time to get used to the council's way of operating, while I could "hit the ground running" and hopefully make a worthwhile contribution for the remainder of the current council term.

What personal qualities do you bring to the council table?

I was born in Geraldine and have lived in the district most of my life. I was educated at Peel Forest Primary School and Geraldine High School. In tertiary education I read law, history and economics at Canterbury University and am a double graduate of theology and ethics at Otago University.

In my working life I was a law clerk for four years for local body solicitors in Christchurch which gave me an insight into legal aspects of council activities, held accountancy positions both here and in London and worked in food processing factories at supervisory level. Currently I continue a family tradition of working on the land and as I live in Geraldine and farm at Arundel I have a clear understanding of the characteristics and aspirations of both urban and rural communities. Eight years in Christchurch and 3 years in London gave me an appreciation of the dynamics of large cities. My interests include sport, local history and demography, pipe bands and conservation. My background would enable me to continue the effective representation built up by previous Geraldine councillors.

What is your vision for the Geraldine ward?

My vision for Geraldine ward is that its future, character and prosperity is decided by Geraldine residents. Local body representation is to be in local hands. Businesses must be encouraged to locate here or expand existing operations so that young people are not forced to leave home to gain employment. Tourism opportunities should be fostered and the area continue to be a desirable place to live.

What is your vision for the Timaru District?

I have deep family ties to the Timaru District. The Simpson family have been here since 1871, originally settling in Totara Valley. While agriculture and various businesses are the economic heart of the area, it is the Port of Timaru which is the key to the export markets and prosperity for the whole area. The port must expand and continue to be viable. Fishing is an industry that could expand with rich fishing grounds in the vicinity.

There needs to be better business and social interaction between various communities.

Council should concentrate on core activities not grandiose projects. Ratepayers do not have money to waste, and rates must be affordable for all people. Fiscal responsibility is also paramount.

What will be your hobbyhorse on council?

I would promote road safety throughout the district and improved road maintenance. Economic sustainability of the whole area and the port in particular.

I want to promote communication and co-operation between elected representatives, council staff and ratepayers. You call, I'll listen and act.



Why are you standing?

Geraldine needs to retain a strong voice on council from someone who lives and works locally, cares about our community, and is willing to work hard on behalf of our residents. I have enjoyed my various leadership roles at Geraldine High School, Geraldine Community Board, Go Geraldine, Geraldine Resource Centre and the Geraldine District Golf Club. My roots are here and I would be honoured to serve as Geraldine's next councillor.

What personal qualities do you bring to the council table?

I am approachable and a good listener. I often provide the voice of reason, and will work hard to bring about changes that will improve the council's performance over time for ratepayers. And if you believe the self-generated profiles in this article then you will probably have four super-humans to choose from. So I would encourage you to find out what others who have worked with me say about me rather than just accepting this profile at face value.

What is your vision for the Geraldine ward?

A great place to live, work, play and stay. This means different things to different people but, for me, the living bit is about a safe, clean and attractive community where people are friendly and caring. The work bit needs a strong local economy where businesses can prosper so that local employment is strong and well paid. The play bit is about having a vibrant and fun community, not only because having fun lifts the human spirit but also because it connects people and builds a strong sense of community. The stay bit is about making Geraldine even more attractive for visitors to come here and stay a while. If we can get all this right then we will have a truly great community. No doubt council has a role to play in supporting this vision for Geraldine, but really, much of our destiny as a community is in our own hands.

What is your vision for the Timaru District?

Also a great place to live, work, play and stay. Please note: I don't think that we need extravagant and expensive facilities that we don't want and can't afford, to achieve this.

What will be your hobbyhorse on council?

Low rates, high performance. Rates need to be kept at affordable levels and be used to pay for high quality basic services and infrastructure such as water, sewerage, waste management, roading and footpaths. If council sticks to the knitting then it will deliver good value for money to all ratepayers. I am also keen for council to create the conditions where agriculture and tourism can thrive in our district because these are the main drivers of our economy.

The Timaru Herald