As a Hamilton resident and ratepayer for many years I have owned small businesses and worked hard to create a home in this city I love. I didn’t imagine that politics would be in my future, but politics chose me when I stood for Council in 2007 and was elected the first time. And I loved it!
Twelve years later I still love my job - working hard with and for you, the people of Hamilton. I realise I have always been drawn to looking after people and I continue that today in the most profound way - in service to my city.
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In 2014 I led the policy that resulted in Hamilton being the first city in NZ to close all its synthetic drug stores overnight. We pioneered the way and shortly afterwards, the Government followed and banned all synthetic products for sale in NZ.
Ward Park - as it use to be called - was impacted by anti-social behaviour and the public felt unsafe. The park needed fixing so the public could feel safe again. I put in time and research to turn it into the beautiful inner-city park it is now - Norris Ward Park. Today it is also the gateway to the Western Rail Trail.
In 2013 I had the idea to gift the Meteor theatre to the Arts community and led the proposal to make it happen. It wasn’t working under Council ownership so my rationale was: who best to run a theatre but the people who use it?
In 2011 I dragged the Council into the 21st century by installing web cams to live stream all Council meetings after a long battle with elected members over several years. My goal was to give residents the opportunity to see how their elected officials behave, debate and vote. Today, approximately 350 people tune in to each meeting.
I led the development of a game changing strategic plan for our spectacular zoo. This plan became the master vision for the zoo’s future. If implemented, this plan would give visitors to our city another reason to stay longer, creating economic benefit as well as joy!
I have strongly fought for and advocated for the continuation of the city’s fantastic destination playgrounds. Destination playgrounds don’t just give children amazing play equipment to be active on but they provide Hamilton families with a free activity that they can spend the whole day enjoying together. To spend the day at one of our destination playgrounds parents need to have easy car parking, toilets, shade, BBQ tables and seating.
A long time supporter of Frankton and the Markets I supported the community to save the markets.
I was on the original river plan group that developed a detailed and strategic river plan for the future of our city. When we consulted on the River Plan, the public support was significant, the open days were attended by hundreds of residents, and finally we had a plan worthy of our future. The one message Hamiltonians told us was ‘get on with it’. Sadly, this plan has stalled under the current leadership. It has had bits ‘cherry picked’ out of it and been replaced by the current leaderships own idea of buying some buildings and bowling them over for a park.
When the change was made to Dinsdale roundabout, narrowing Tuhikaramea Road to one lane WITHOUT public consultation I led the charge to have it reinstated. I worked with the community and had the decision reversed. It wasn’t broken and it should not have been ‘fixed’. In 2017 I was contacted by a group of Baverstock residents who desperately needed some safety measures along their road. I worked with them, took it to Council and quickly got a basic footpath and street lighting installed so the residents can now feel safe.
Baverstock road safety
Our city is unique in that we have two very special character areas, Frankton and Hamilton East. I made sure that when we reviewed the city’s District Plan these special character areas would be protected. The Frankton Plan that I developed and led and the Hamilton East plan which I championed retain the unique identity of these areas while creating new spirit and vibrancy. (Both plans have stalled under current leadership).
In 2013 I introduced Public Forums to the start of every Council meeting. Before this there was no formal way for a member of the public to truly present to their Mayor and Councillors. These forums now give the public the opportunity to come and speak directly to the people who work for them. Since they were introduced, thousands of people have come and spoken directly to their Council on issues that concern them.
Following on from the success of the Meteor I championed the gifting of Clarence St Theatre in the same way.
Gifting of Clarence Street Theatre
I was the first elected member to have a blog, website, and the first to use social media to communicate openly and directly to Hamilton residents. Over the years it has made some of my colleagues uncomfortable at times but I will always use whatever communication methods are appropriate and will continue to find new ways to be open and tell people what is going on in their city.
Social media transparency
I was on the original group who established the city’s first Hamilton Central Safety Plan and have championed the work ever since. The plan had a positive effect on the CBD and I continue to push for better and improved public safety for the CBD and the whole city. I have presented to the LGNZ Conference on the success of our plan and in 2016 we won the Fulton Hogan Excellence Award for Community Engagement at the 2016 Local Government New Zealand Excellence Awards. I went on to lead the development of our latest Central City Safety Strategy.
Over 25,000 people live in homes with dogs and yet when I started with Council we had no real amenities for dogs and their humans. I led the development of a doggie plan that has seen improvements to our dog parks over time. There is still more to do and one day my goal is to have a wonderful purpose built destination dog park.