Time for a change, says mayoral candidate

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Seeing a need for the Gore District Council to cut its financial coat according to its cloth has prompted former Waikaka ward councillor Bevin Watt to enter the mayoral race.
The council’s 2016/17 annual plan listed the district-wide rates rise as 4.27% with a total capital spend of $12.8 million for the financial year. Debt was projected to be $19.8 million at the end of the 2017 financial year.
Mr Watt said it was time for a change in the top job and he had been approached by several people to stand for the mayoralty.
He believed incumbent Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks had been in the job long enough. Twelve years was a good stint for a mayor and finding ways to trim council costs and curb rates increases were issues that needed attention, Mr Watt said.
He was concerned about the council’s increasing debt, which he described as being quite significant. Cutting that debt topped his list of ‘‘to dos’’.
Mr Watt said he would be encouraging councillors to ask the hard questions in a bid to get the right answers.
It was also imperative to attract people to live in the Gore district, he said.
Gore had a tremendous amount going for it, Mr Watt said.
Gore was a tidy town that had great amenities and good access to other areas, as it was central.
In addition, Eastern Southland was one of the most productive rural areas in New Zealand, he said.
Mr Watt said he would only be contesting the mayoralty and would not be putting his hand up for the Waikaka ward. The reason for this was that if he was unsuccessful in the mayoralty but was elected as ward representative he would find it ‘‘unacceptable’’ to endure three years of frustration under a similar council regime as the one in place at present.
He believed an elected member’s role was to make a difference.
He said he decided to run for mayor as he had the time and energy to put into the job.
‘‘I want to rise to the challenge.’’
Mr Watt said he was keen to head a council that engaged in free and frank discussion about issues around the council table.
He believed open discussion was fundamental to bringing progress to the district.