Elections nearing 

Sitting in the Te Awamutu Council Chambers, Mayor Jim Mylchreest says he’d love to see some new faces on council as well as retaining councillors that help make Waipa great.

Three mayors in the Cambridge and Te Awamutu News readership area plan to stand for office again.
Nominations for the local body elections open in a month’s time.
Waikato mayor Allan Sanson, Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest and Ōtorohanga mayor Max Baxter have all confirmed that they will be running.
The chair of the Waikato Regional Council, Alan Livingston, announced earlier this month that he would be standing down.
Te Awamutu’s community board chairperson Gary Derbyshire will also be running again saying that he has unfinished business to tend to such as being involved in the Te Arai Wai Discovery centre development.
“I’ve really enjoyed my first term back on the community board and I really enjoy local body politics on this level, it’s a good balance for me,” said Gary who is also a real estate agent at LJ Hooker.
“I’ve got several projects that are still on the go that I want to see through,” said Gary.
The Cambridge Community Board chairman Mike Pettit was unsure at this stage whether he would stand again, saying it was a family decision yet to be made.
Tamahere and Matangi are in the Waikato District Council in the Tamahere Ward, which is currently represented by Councillor Aksel Bech. He plans to stand for a second term.
All but three of the Waipa District’s elected representatives have confirmed their intention to run.
Councillor Sue Milner, also a member of the Cambridge Community Board, said she will only be running for the community board this year.
“I have enjoyed my time on Council but it takes up considerable hours, and it would be good to have new fresh faces – hopefully younger – sitting on the council,” she said.
Te Awamutu ward councillor Vern Wilson will also stand down this year, after nearly a decade on the council.
“I have enjoyed the last nine years and hope in some way made a difference,” he said.
He ran for mayor in the 2016 elections, and still has the same message he had then – listen, be honest and stand by your values.
“I strongly believe you must stand by your election promises, they are a pledge to the people that elected you. At the end of the day it’s not a popularity competition in meetings and one person can make a difference, the last thing you need is a bunch of rubber stampers.”
It is not known whether or not Councillor Judy Bannon will stand.
Every other councillor and community board member has confirmed they will stand this year.
To date there has been no contender from within the Waipā council shaping as a rival for the sitting Mayor.
Jim Mylchreest ran against three candidates when he first stood in 2013. Since then the district’s population has grown by over 6000 to more than 53000.
“We’ve seen more growth in Waipa than there’s ever been,” said the mayor, who started working for council back in 1978 under the Waipa County Council, and then with Waipa District Council when it formed in 1989. He took a break in 2002 and headed the Maungatautari Ecological Island project before getting back into the game in 2013 and winning the job as mayor.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” he said. “It’s a fantastic role. It is challenging … It’s a complex business, there are over 20 different streams of work within the organisation, whether it’s roading, drainage, storm water, health, planning, building inspections, there’s a mass of different activities that you’ve got to try and get your head around, and it’s quite a big business at a hundred million dollars a year … But it’s great, I’m really proud of how the district has grown.”
He said those thinking about running for office should have a thick skin and be prepared to deal with the regulations and red tape that come with the job.
“Some days you just shake your head and think, this is ridiculous, but you need to be able to keep at it.
“Whether you’re on the community board or a councillor or in the mayoralty it is a challenging role, but it’s very rewarding when you actually get things done.”
Time and commitment are a big aspect to the job as mayor, he said, and having a supportive partner is absolutely important.
“I’m really lucky that Robyn (wife of 32 years) is supportive and comes to as many functions as she can.”
Councillors generally don’t have to attend weeknight and weekend commitments like the mayor does, making that side more suitable for those with young families, he said.
He hopes to see all ages and ethnicities run in the election, to reflect the diverse population of Waipa.
“It’s good to get some fresh faces, and to have some continuity as well (in keeping some of the existing Councillors).
“My advice for those wanting to run would be, don’t come into it thinking you can reduce rates overnight. People might promise they’re going to cut rates, but because so much of what we do is necessary work, it’s not something that’s really possible, and to actually have a district that’s so attractive as well.”
Looking back on his two terms, he said the most important achievement for Council was the upgrades in infrastructure across the district. More noticeable to the public would be the Cambridge Pool project for Cambridge, and the Te Ara Wai discovery centre planned for Te Awamutu.
He hopes to improve wellbeing in Waipa, in part through improved social and pensioner housing.
His most important message of all was to encourage voters to make their voice count.
“Make sure you find out about your candidates, and take the opportunity to get out there and vote. When everything’s going well, you tend to forget the council’s actually here, but it doesn’t happen by accident, you need to elect good people for the council.”
Nominations will be open from July 19 to August 16.

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