Congratulations to Sharyn Price, who secured one of two seats in the Corriedale ward of the Waitaki District Council in the 2013 elections. Sharyn is a Kauru Hill Rural Women NZ member.
What inspired you to put your hand up for local body politics?
A wise man once told me, “Service is the rent we pay for living”. Having been approached by several people whose opinions I value, I decided it was time to pay my dues.
Has being a Rural Women NZ member influenced your decision to stand?
Definitely! I am inspired by the many strong, capable Rural Women NZ members already in office around the country. Local members are very supportive and provide an excellent network for gathering community views – a great advantage for women candidates.
What do you see as the most important qualities for a local councillor?
My top picks are passion for the district – putting the community’s interest first – and the ability to negotiate, especially where urban representatives outnumber rural voices around the table. Being approachable and taking time to listen are also important, but councillors must weigh local opinions against detailed information not always widely available – a delicate balancing act.
What are the top three rural issues facing your community?
1. Rates fairness and value for money are utterly essential. Rural ratepayers have seen much larger percentage increases in rates than Council’s annual averges, thanks to farm development and increasing capital values, while town values fail to keep pace. Paying ever more for a shrinking share of services is not reasonable. Extracting maximum value on a limited budget is in everyone’s interest.
2. Maintaining quality infrastructure is a huge challenge for our geographically large, sparsely populated district. High agricultural output and tourist traffic demand good roads, but national government contributions are dwindling. Other infrastructure also needs attention to keep Waitaki a safe, attractive place to live and do business.
3. Easy access to major services such as health care, education and access to government agencies is taken for granted in larger centres, but is easily lost from smaller districts like ours. Call centres and internet access (for those who can get it) never replace the real thing. It’s essential to keep pressure on government to maintain local services and avoid becoming ‘isolated’ despite our central location.
If you could change one thing affecting the rural community during your term in office, what would it be?
There is no good reason why we can’t have a transparent rating policy that ensures each ward contributes the appropriate proportion to each budget item, regardless of changes in land/capital values over time. Contributions to each item should reflect the ward’s share of the benefit from spending, rather than fluctuating with movements in rateable value (especially where relative movements differ greatly between rural and urban properties).
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