When the votes were counted on Saturday Liz McMillan, Lynette Lovett, Mark Malcolm, Leen Braam, Diane Rawlinson, Thelma Bell and Selwyn Price won a seat and after they are sworn into office on October 26, will then use the title district councillor.
The seven new councillors bring varying degrees of experience to the council table, but all are clearly committed to being part of a process that will achieve the best outcomes for the district.
They say that while they’ll be spending their first weeks listening and learning, they won’t be afraid to air their views and take part in debate.
The farmer and new eastern ward councillor says she has a strong interest in the redevelopment of the town centre.
“As a council we have to take a good look at this and make the right decisions. It needs to become a place where people come, sit down and enjoy the experience.
We’re a bit disjointed,” she said.
The council needs to take a long, hard look at the whole town and its development rather than having shops dotted here and there.”
She’d opt for the library relocating to the old county building in Baring Square east, would like to see terraced housing in the heart of the town and as a current member of the council’s roading reference group is keen to continue her involvement in roading issues – across the district.
“And we have to go ahead with the second bridge and then possibly another further out as a by- pass.”
The landscaper and new urban ward councillor says he’s passionate about the Ashburton District.
“There are a lot of positive things about it; don’t let the negative things take over.”
He says he can see both sides of an issue and will support the right things.
The district’s relationship with water was one of the major issues for him.
“We have to try to solve this and we have to make sure we’re making the right decisions.”
He also wants to see things change in the town centre.
He doesn’t see the new civic building being built in the middle of town and said he is looking forward to working on this project.
“I applaud the people who want to do the redevelopment in town and the council needs to be there to help them.”
Solving the issues around traffic log jams from Tinwald into Ashburton had to be addressed, he said.
“We have to look at all options”.
The insurance broker and new urban councillor and was the first chairperson of the Ashburton Citizens’ Association and is its current secretary.
For her it’s imperative the council develops a clear vision for the town’s redevelopment, not just five years out but for the next 10 or 20 years.
“I’d like to see something in the council, a working model on how the town is planned to develop so people can see what’s happening and you can see how it will work,” she said.
“It’s all about having a clear view and vision so we can all look at the bigger picture.”
She is a member of the Tinwald corridor project group and hopes to remain involved in the drive to improve traffic flows through town.
Tourism is also one of her passions and she’s keen to see the council make a greater commitment in this area.
“We have so much to offer here that’s unseen.”
Over the past four months the education consultant has been in the public gallery at most council meetings and says that’s given him valuable background knowledge and understanding of the way in which the council works.
“And through my Facebook page I also think I have a good grasp of how people in the community are feeling on many issues,” he said.
He believes water is the most significant issue facing the district. He’s attended several water zone committee meetings and believes he has a good overview of the issue.
He’s also passionate about the revitalisation of Ashburton’s central business district.
“I see the council as being in a position to make things happen in the town centre that other developers can’t; we have the control of the resources.”
He’s in favour of holding onto buildings rather than pulling them down, saying it’s important to keep links with the past.
Economic growth in the district has to continue, but it can’t be at the expense of environmental or social issues, Price said.
“Having a social conscience is important for councillors.”
The Methven Playcentre supervisor says her number one objective is to be a good representative for the western ward.
“I want to bring the thoughts of the Methven people to council, to have our voice heard and while I have a local body background from the Methven Community Board this is a big step up, there will be a lot to learn,” she said.
McMillan says she will be taking a broad view on all issues and believes that often the best solutions are achieved when people are prepared to think outside the square. She’ll be comfortable taking part in debates, but says she likes to have all the facts before she states her case.
The mum of two is now planning the balancing act her life will become as she fits council commitments and work commitments around looking after her family.
The eastern ward businessman says his passion will definitely be rural affairs, with water taking number one slot.
While he’ll be doing his best to be the voice of Rakaia, that doesn’t mean he won’t be intensely interested in council business across the board, he said.
He’s keen to see the new civic centre on the existing site and he believes that putting the Baring Square Church in the mix has opened a huge can of worms about the future of the district’s remaining older buildings.
Malcolm says he’s about making sensible decisions, not emotional decisions.
“I want to find out things, understand things.
“I want to be well informed and I’ll be getting to know it from a different angle.”
As he takes up the role of district councillor, Malcolm says he won’t be making any commitment to any issue; he’s coming to the council table with a broad and open mind.
The urban councillor says she feels blessed to have been voted on to the council.
“Several things are going through my mind at the moment.
“It’s a learning curve for a new councillor but at the same time it is exciting, it is a new beginning,” she said.
For her a big issue will be working towards making Ashburton streets and the district as a whole a much safer place to live.
She’s concerned at the ongoing violence on town streets and the growing incidents of petty thefts.
While she’s committed to improving street safety, Bell said she will be coming to council with a desire to learn as much as she can about a range of issues.
When it comes to the location of the district’s new civic centre, she is very clear – leave it where it is.
“With my background I get the facts from different sides of the situation which will be useful in decision making.
“I will strive so as my term as a councillor will be productive working together as a team.”
Source: Ashburton Guardian.