Queenstown-Whakatipu ward: Who will best represent you?

by Kim Bowden - Sep 16, 2022

What's their motivation for standing, how do they work with people they disagree with, what will be their super strength around the council table, and what do they think the Queenstown Lakes District Council can do better, especially when it comes to spending ratepayer's money? We've asked your would-be councillors, to help you choose who you think's the best fit for the job.

 

Gavin Bartlett

The one issue that really motivates me to stand for council is…

I would like to see QLDC excel at proactively providing its core services for residents, ratepayers and visitors – unobstructed footpaths, well-maintained sport and recreation facilities, efficient waste and recycling services, connected transport and active travel networks, to name a few – with council providing the environment to enable this to happen.

You’ll be one voice around the council table. Tell us something about how you manage working with people you disagree with, how you with deal with conflict, or how you work to get people on side.

I've managed to work well with diverse groups in other organisations I have been involved with. All councillors around the table have the right to have their voice heard. Where there is disagreement or conflict I would try to find the common ground between the opposing views and work from there.

You’ve got a $5-million grant to use how you want for the district. What would you do with it and why?

Such grants should be used in a way to benefit the widest possible cross-section of our community. I would propose that the grant be used to fund initiatives for improving the well-being of people across our district, for example a programme to provide education and support to new fathers.

What’s one thing the QLDC could do a lot better, and how will you try and make it happen?

Public consultations carried out by QLDC occasionally appear to miss the mark, to the point that the community later expresses its dissatisfaction and/or frustration with the decisions made. A review of the consultation processes and methods would be useful in helping to understand how to better engage with the community.

Engineer, RMA guru, nerd for numbers, sucker for details - What's a super strength you'll bring to the council table?

My training and experience as a Professional Engineer provide me with a set of problem-solving skills which I think will be useful when applied to the many and varied challenges currently facing our district (as well as being handy with numbers!).

Have you read Crux' series of stories on council procurement/"jobs for mates"? What's your take on what's important when spending ratepayer money?

Expenditure of public funds should be justified, transparent, follow established procurement procedures and be able to stand up to scrutiny. Most of all it must provide value for money. With regard to out-of-town consultants, the need for such should be weighed against the knowledge and advice that is available locally.

 

Stevey Chernishov

The one issue that really motivates me to stand for council is…

Council decision making has been overly simplified into YES/NO questions (agree or disagree with what is presented at the table). Instead of 'voting on one issue', what we need to see is that all of our regional development is interconnected using insightful local planning. Processes are interrelated… We need to create truly sustainable, localised, economically savvy processes - to live and grow as much as possible without projecting further into debt. (Editor's note: response cut short in interest of fairness as well over word count).

You’ll be one voice around the council table. Tell us something about how you manage working with people you disagree with, how you with deal with conflict, or how you work to get people on side.

Over the years I have usually worked with more than 100 people per day in my teaching role. This dynamic is one that involves setting up trust, encouraging and motivating people, building collaborative teams, and negotiating to reach the best possible outcome each day. The biggest challenge in group work is to create atmospheres of peace and unity; even if we disagree on matters. I've been practicing this for years in the setting of secondary school education.

You’ve got a $5-million grant to use how you want for the district. What would you do with it and why?

I would like to see $5 million invested into small building projects that make efficient use of funds. Completed buildings can be installed on any property which already has a dwelling on it (under Schedule One of the Building Code without needing permits). Five million can be invested into building 400 sleepouts, or 200 small units (without plumbing in them) which can support existing living setups. These buildings can then be privately sold, or provided with 'lease to own arrangements' in the community. As the funds from building and sales slowly expand, small building project work can be repeated.

What’s one thing the QLDC could do a lot better, and how will you try and make it happen?

QLDC can reallocate resources. For example: It is time to immediately conduct community consultation with 'experts' in the field of roading. We must consider all of the funds being projected into 'roading contracts'; then hypothesise innovative ways to use just half of those same funds into the same projects - only using new technologies and methods. The plan and proposal shall then be presented directly back to our people and trialled on a small scale. It is time to visualise new ways forward, design then action them to find out what we are truly capable of.

Engineer, RMA guru, nerd for numbers, sucker for details - What's a super strength you'll bring to the council table?

Design thinking: I lead in the field of vision building, designing, and actioning new ways forward. My speciality is in the process of investigation, planning, creating and reviewing work done. This is a valuable process that needs to be strongly implemented into local decision making. Design thinking is essential for making best use of resources, and coming up with relevant solutions.

Have you read Crux' series of stories on council procurement/"jobs for mates"? What's your take on what's important when spending ratepayer money?

I have reviewed Crux' stories, and scheduled to look more closely at these in my calendar. The word 'spending' is the wrong focus. What we should be doing is empowering, investing and establishing ways forward which allow our locals to reach new heights. It is time to establish services that take us out of financial decline, and into living more healthy lives and offering services to the world.

 

Niki Gladding

The one issue that really motivates me to stand for council is…

Central Government and the infrastructure lobby seem intent on centralising decision-making. I want to help build a council that the community wants to fight to keep... so that we can retain integrated local decision-making.

You’ll be one voice around the council table. Tell us something about how you manage working with people you disagree with, how you with deal with conflict, or how you work to get people on side.

I have a pretty thick skin - politics comes with plenty of conflict. I listen to everyone because it improves my arguments and decisions. I make a point of sticking to the issues and being constructive. You can't win 'em all but you can always do your best.

You’ve got a $5-million grant to use how you want for the district. What would you do with it and why?

I'd invest it in a comprehensive Plan Change aimed at two things: 1. fixing some of the root causes of unaffordable housing; and 2. reducing the carbon impact of new builds. It would include a well-resourced attempt at reigning in residential visitor accommodation.

What’s one thing the QLDC could do a lot better, and how will you try and make it happen?

Improving Airport Governance is urgent. The constitution needs reviewing (by QLDC); we need to appoint board members with experience in local government and climate risk; and we need to amend the SOI to retain control of the Strategic Plan. If elected, I'll bring a notice of motion within the first couple of months.

Engineer, RMA guru, nerd for numbers, sucker for details - What's a super strength you'll bring to the council table?

If I boil it down to one thing it's that I love the learning and the thinking - no matter what we're discussing or debating. Loving the job is probably my ultimate super strength.

Have you read Crux' series of stories on council procurement/"jobs for mates"? What's your take on what's important when spending ratepayer money?

A great Procurement Policy and Guidelines are important and transparent reporting (to keep everyone on their toes). Beyond procurement, it's incredibly important to understand the opportunity costs and carbon impact of our investments.

 

Peter Newport

The one issue that really motivates me to stand for council is…

Lack of honesty and transparency.

You’ll be one voice around the council table. Tell us something about how you manage working with people you disagree with, how you with deal with conflict, or how you work to get people on side.

Logical argument and clear, strong debate.

You’ve got a $5-million grant to use how you want for the district. What would you do with it and why?

Inspire young people to stay in the district with scholarships and grants.

What’s one thing the QLDC could do a lot better, and how will you try and make it happen?

Tell the truth - public opinion will push this result, through better information. That’s my job. 

Engineer, RMA guru, nerd for numbers, sucker for details - What's a super strength you'll bring to the council table?

Advocacy.

Have you read Crux' series of stories on council procurement/"jobs for mates"? What's your take on what's important when spending ratepayer money?

Playing by the rules - transparency, value for ratepayers and keeping key areas of knowledge within the council.

 

Claire Turnham

The one issue that really motivates me to stand for council is…

As a mother of four, the one issue which motivates me is improving access to healthy, warm, safe, dry and affordable homes. The council could actively lead the way in supporting innovative initiatives, removing any barriers and developing future proofed models built on social, economic and environmental responsibility.

You’ll be one voice around the council table. Tell us something about how you manage working with people you disagree with, how you with deal with conflict, or how you work to get people on side.

I am experienced at listening sensitively to others and working calmly and consistently under pressure. I am open to considering alternative viewpoints and to sharing healthy and respectful debate of the issues for the benefit of the community.

You’ve got a $5-million grant to use how you want for the district. What would you do with it and why?

The first thing I would do is to engage the community to determine where we could achieve the greatest impact locally with a grant of $5 million.

What’s one thing the QLDC could do a lot better, and how will you try and make it happen?

Access to affordable, meaningful, appropriate and sustainable choices for the dying and their bereaved families. I would collaborate with the cemeteries team to reduce funeral poverty, establish a natural burial ground and share my expertise to improve the level of useful information, support and resources available for everybody’s benefit.

Engineer, RMA guru, nerd for numbers, sucker for details - What's a super strength you'll bring to the council table?

I advocate for people in need and have helped thousands worldwide to reclaim $6 million in refunds after being misled and mis sold buying tickets to live events. My campaigning work has been honoured by the Queen and Amnesty International. My super strengths are courage, empathy, integrity and creative vision.

Have you read Crux' series of stories on council procurement/"jobs for mates"? What's your take on what's important when spending ratepayer money?

Transparency, honesty and clarity are essential. As a council we must ensure we have community consultation, informed decision making and sensible, fair and responsible spending of ratepayers money.

 

Esther Whitehead

The one issue that really motivates me to stand for council is…

Climate adaptation is the key issue which needs to be embedded into all decision making, all training, all business cases and all developments. The risks we face are massive, we need to address them as part of our everyday workload and workstreams.

You’ll be one voice around the council table. Tell us something about how you manage working with people you disagree with, how you with deal with conflict, or how you work to get people on side.

In a political environment filled with complex decisions, disagreeing is healthy and good. We need to focus on behaviour and events, not on personalities. I feel the current council has focused on personalities not issues and made it divisive. I listen carefully, identify points of agreement/disagreement and workshop through a plan to work on each conflict issue. This is really the concept of collaboration. I'm a calm person able to look at the big-picture.

You’ve got a $5-million grant to use how you want for the district. What would you do with it and why?

I would engage the community in workshops to co-design where and how we wish the money to be spent. It's not about what I want, it's about what we all want. It's always harder and slower to achieve outcomes when everyone is involved but it means that our community is empowered, and part of the solution that they have designed. No council can solve all the problems alone, nor should it.

What’s one thing the QLDC could do a lot better, and how will you try and make it happen?

Stop consulting on pre-baked solutions where the community then feels its options are very limited or it is a victim to council's decisions. We need to work with community far earlier. I have advocated for this in my first year, and with a whole new council, I think we can begin to admit that the current and old way of consulting is not working.

Engineer, RMA guru, nerd for numbers, sucker for details - What's a super strength you'll bring to the council table?

The challenges facing today’s boards include: Political, economic and environmental uncertainty; Market volatility and recession; Regulatory reform. I bring Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) experience which is in high demand across sectors, having qualifications and credentials in this space, a year at the council table, and I consult to public sector and businesses in guiding ESG strategy. I am compassionate, curious, and empathetic and have the ability to get others to pause and think about the big picture questions. What does the pipeline look like rather than what were the last quarter’s results? What are the future risks to the organisation? Are they cultural? Are they technological? Are they related to talent shortages?

Have you read Crux' series of stories on council procurement/"jobs for mates"? What's your take on what's important when spending ratepayer money?

I was voted in as a councillor last June 2021, so I have become aware of the historic procurement issues. It's been uncovered, it's now being dealt with at an organisational and governance level and I will continue to push for better procurement processes so that we can prevent the bad stuff and focus on best practice. By implementing these changes, procurement teams can increase their flexibility and capability when facing disruptions (competitive, geopolitical, regulatory, environmental), which then increases the value to the community. This is incredibly important!

 

Matt Wong

The one issue that really motivates me to stand for council is…

Stronger Governance and diverse representation to manage all the complex issues. There's too many single issues so we need to look at the whole system.

You’ll be one voice around the council table. Tell us something about how you manage working with people you disagree with, how you with deal with conflict, or how you work to get people on side.

You can hold your values but remain gracious with people, keeping the door open to discuss and collaborate. I've had more success as a lobbyist than an activist. I don't know everything so being challenged and open to lean on others expertise is important, and actively listening creates better informed individuals.

You’ve got a $5-million grant to use how you want for the district. What would you do with it and why?

That's not much but I'd use it on innovation to solve one of our large complex issues. For example, transport to reduce congestion and increase daily usage of public transport and alternative modes of transport.

What’s one thing the QLDC could do a lot better, and how will you try and make it happen?

Community communication and collaboration: Advocate for strong KPI's around community engagement and improved connectivity with sectors of the community. There's always going to be conflicting tough decisions but community needs to be well informed. Get into the weeds with the coms team and understand what their big issues are (info, resource, internal coms, support, strategy) and ensure data performance measures drive constant improvements.

Engineer, RMA guru, nerd for numbers, sucker for details - What's a super strength you'll bring to the council table?

I'm a dad, husband, business owner, chamber board member, lightfoot trust board member, and advisor to mental health, education and regenerative tourism sectors. According to Clifton Strengths report my top strengths are Individualization, Analytical and Responsibility, which is useful for treating everyone as an individual and going deep into understanding community needs. I also look for data to prove our decisions and actions have tangible beneficial results. With complex problems I mentally grind away until we come up with well considered solutions to complex problems. I take ownership for anything I commit to because I'm bound by my own ethics. A blessing and a curse!

Have you read Crux' series of stories on council procurement/"jobs for mates"? What's your take on what's important when spending ratepayer money?

Yes, if I'm elected I will have the opportunity to learn first hand how council operates and look forward to holding a more informed opinion from inside the local government tent. I'm frugal by nature, particularly in the past three years of uncertainty, and major spending must be for the benefit of avoiding catastrophe, future proofing, and enhancement of the districts quality of life.

 

Acting on some of the big issues - it's not always easy to agree on the best approach, so we asked each candidate where they sit on a sliding scale from zero to 10.

No-shows: Tony Dorner and Mary Weston

 

Read more:

Arrowtown-Kawarau ward: Who will best represent you?

Wānaka-Upper Clutha ward: Who will best represent you?

Wānaka-Upper Clutha community board: Who will best represent you?

ORC Dunstan constituency: Who will best represent you?

Watch now:

The Crux mayoral candidates debate

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