Mayoral Race on the Kapiti Coast Turns Exciting — Ex-contender Switches Horses in Election RaceBy Alan Tristram July 17, 2010
The political temperature on the Kapiti Coast has just gone through the roof with the surprise announcement by Chris Turver that he will fight Jenny Rowan — and give up his campaign for the Regional Council seat.
The coming election once looked like a shoo-in for Mayor Rowan, who defeated Mr Turner in the last Mayoral race.
And earlier in the year, Mr Turver said he would stand again for his old seat on the Greater Wellington Regional Council, now held by Nigel Wilson.
It’s understood Mr Turver has the backing of an important business lobby, One Kapiti, which is strongly pro-development.
The present Mayor has strong ‘sustainability’ and social welfare credentials and has impressed a huge number of locals with her approachability and work ethic.
But three big local issues have erupted over the past year and could cause her major headaches:
- The new Expressway, with which the Government scuppered Rowan-backed plans for an ec0-friendly Western Link Road
- A huge rate rise at a time when many Kapiti people are feeling the pinch
- An aborted proposal from Ms Rowan to persuade Electra to divert some of its refund payments to a ‘community chest’
In his election statement, Chris Turver says:
“I have decided to stand for Mayor of Kapiti to offer a down-to-earth leadership choice in how the District is run and how it faces the future.
“The focus will be on getting the priorities right, value for ratepayer money, and creating a positive climate for growth and job opportunities.”
Mr Turver, who had intended to stand again for Greater Wellington Regional Council, says the final straw was to see the Mayor and Councillors increase rates by almost 7.0 percent – and give the growing staff of 261 a pay rise of 3.5 percent.
“This failure to recognise reality comes at a time when New Zealand is still struggling through a recession and growth in Kapiti has slowed to a crawl – with less income to support our families.”
He says instead of concentrating ratepayer money on core business and supporting opportunities to stimulate job growth, the KCDC has spread its income too thinly over too many activities and allowed its operational costs to get out of hand.
“That means it now has an unhealthy reliance on a high level of borrowing in uncertain times to meet its promises – and the chances of reducing rates are slim under the present regime,”says Mr Turver.
The first priority would be a stock-take of the KCDC’s short and long term commitments because ratepayers have a right to be kept informed on what’s happening with their money.
Mr Turver says as Mayor he would offer leadership based on a good dose of realism, put the running of the Council on a firm business-like footing, and concentrate on Kapiti’s basic priorities.
As Kapiti’s regional councillor for nine years he chaired several committees, ran successful business operations in the commercial world, and would bring that experience to the KCDC.
He says the out-going Council is fundamentally flawed in trying to be all things to all people instead of delivering essential priorities.
Mr Turver says in deciding to stand for Mayor, he has been heartened by the calibre of new Council candidates with commonsense and commitment who could end years of bickering and divisiveness and help build a professional organisation.
PROFILE – CHRIS TURVER
Married with two adult sons
Runs cattle on a small farm in Te Horo
Justice of the Peace
Part-time executive officer of the Wave & Tidal Energy Association, working to harness the power of the sea to produce electricity from either underwater tidal generators or surface wave generators around the coast of New Zealand.
Chairman of Electra Trust
National Executive member, Energy Trusts of New Zealand
Patron, Kapiti Coastguard
Executive member, Otaki RSA
Management Committee member, Te Horo Rural Fire Force
Greater Wellington Regional Council for Kapiti for nine years, re-elected twice unopposed, and chairman of the passenger transport committee, environment committee, and resource consent hearing committee
Kapiti’s elected member on Capital & Coast District Health Board for three years
Chief Executive, Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation for five years
Corporate Communications Manager for the NZ Police for five years
General Manager News, Current Affairs & Sport with Radio New Zealand for eight years
RNZ Political Editor, Press Gallery, Parliament, for five years