Local Elections 2013 – Theresa Stark – Waikato Regional Council Candidate 18-Sep-2013

September 18, 2013 10:51 pm

Theresa Stark received resounding support from voters who have re-elected her to the Waikato Regional Council for the Waikato general constituency under the ‘Rates Control Team’ banner. Preliminary results put her as the most preferred candidate by several hundred votes.

What inspired you to put your hand up for local body politics? 
Frustration in dealing with local councils for core services, unaffordable rates increases, and my advocacy roles within Federated Farmers led me to put my hand up for local body politics.
Has being a Rural Women NZ member influenced your decision to stand?
Being a member of Rural Women NZ at the time also gave me a sense of empowerment as they are a strong and respected lobbying voice and are successfully influencing policy.  In general, women from the rural sector don’t always realize how much power they do have until they start to exercise it.  Rural women need to support each other taking up the challenges of ‘putting oneself out there’ as it can be daunting.
What do you see as the most important qualities for a local councillor?
The most important qualities are integrity and representation.  These are crucial.  Integrity, in that you must keep your word and be honest about what your thinking is – no game playing.  I made a pledge to the community through the Rates Control Team that I would aim to keep any rates rises at or below inflation, any more than that is unaffordable as incomes cannot keep pace.  Representation – once on council, councillors are informed that through the oath they take, they must act for the overall good of the region, rather than the constituency that elected them.  I firmly believe that it is for the good of the overall region to represent the view of the people who elected you to represent them.  

What are the top three rural issues facing your community?
The top three rural issues are water, affordability and local government reforms.  We all want clean water and enough of it for drinking, recreation, our businesses etc.  It is the essence of life.  The delicate balance will be in cleaning up lakes and rivers affordably, making sure everyone has enough water for their needs, and developing water storage policies to allay the effects of the terrible droughts the Waikato has suffered.  Local government reforms are in the wind.  It is crucial communities have their say in how they want to be governed. Talk of amalgamations are in the wind, but local views must remain in local government.
If you could change one thing affecting the rural community during your term in office, what would it be?
I would like to see our council undergo a culture change to an ethos of true public service.  That is our reason for being, but all too often, bureaucracy overtakes common sense.  There is a lot of stress in the rural community derived from council policies and how they are implemented.  I want to see a ‘how can I help you?’ attitude, not a ‘Rule 2.4b states you can’t do that’ attitude.

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