Next up on the WCC Watch Soapbox is the independent Mayoral and Lambton Ward candidate Nicola Young. Feel free to leave questions for her in the comments. As always candidates (or readers) are welcome to contribute posts too and can submit pieces here.
Strong, inspired mayors drive change
Michael Fowler re-energised Wellington after the long, plodding 18 years of Frank Kitts. Ian Lawrence championed Wellington’s International Festival of the Arts, which established our reputation as the creative capital; we became the liberal capital under the leadership of Fran Wilde with her history of championing gay rights; and Kerry Prendergast started the greening of Wellington, with the planting of pohutukawa trees along Waterloo Quay. The capital lost its greyness, in favour of a metropolitan vibe totally out of proportion to its size.
The spark has faded in the past three years; and that’s why I’m standing for Wellington’s Mayoralty. There have been too many strategies, and not enough action. Our city needs change and leadership, with a Mayor who’s inspired, has a wide-angled vision, plenty of common sense and gets things done. I want the capital to become New Zealand’s first choice destination – for Wellingtonians, other New Zealanders, migrants and visitors.
Running a city is similar to running a business, and needs the same qualities: decisiveness, leadership, ability to build relationships, clarity, fiscal responsibility, far-sightedness, and demonstrating it has a heart.
Governance is another issue. ‘Double-dipping’ by councillors must stop – it’s unacceptable for them to be paid additional salaries as board members of Council Controlled Operations.
Let’s use our strengths, to grow and revitalise the city and our economy. We’re brainy, with world-class (often under-rated!) public servants and lots of smart graduates whom we need to retain; making sure they settle here and don’t drift north, or across the Tasman.
Our Information Communications and Technology (ICT) sector and the 700 ‘creative’ companies centred on Peter Jackson’s empire have great economic and employment potential; starting with the Government, a major ICT consumer. In August, I organised ‘Wired Wellington’ when the Prime Minister met about 70 people from the ICT sector; it’s believed to be their first face-to-face encounter. Frankly, it’s something the Council should have done years ago. I’ve been asked to extend the event to other sectors: we need strong relationships with central Government; it’s Wellington’s largest employer, has the biggest bank account, and we need its backing.
The world is full of tourists looking for new destinations. Most capitals flaunt their status with political museums, statues, memorial plaques and guided tours. Not us; other than Parliament Buildings and the Beehive, it’s hard to find any sign of our political history. We need leverage our capital city status into a tourism attraction.
Our CBD’s compact topography makes Wellington the perfect location for festivals – reinstating the Cuba Street Carnival is high on my list, and I’ve got a number of other plans!
Wellington needs a Mayor who can lead the city, and drive change; not incumbents who’ve already served five terms. If elected Mayor, I’ll work to rejuvenate the capital, a city where people want to live, work, and stay. I’ll be a strong, inspired Mayor of whom Wellingtonians can be proud. I’ll make sure Wellington gets back its spark.