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Meet your Mayoral candidates

This week and next week we are providing candidate profiles for the seven people standing for Mayor in the upcoming local body elections.

The Informer is expressing no political bias and candidates are presented in alphabetical order. Next week meet Ron Julian, Peter Pinkham, Len Salt and Cherie Staples.

Eric Carter

Eric Carter is a family man, who eleven years ago moved to Te Mata where he runs a fishing charter business - two boats with around four hundred plus trips a year bringing in 3500 local and international tourists every year. His daughters and ex-wife are also Thames - Coromandel residents pursuing their vocations in this region and supporting Eric in his candidacy for Mayor.

In addition to his current business experience, Eric has a background in sales, marketing and logistics, specialising in agricultural products. He is currently President of the Waikawau Boat Ramp Society, a role which he has held for four years and before that he was an active part of the committee, also taking on vice presidency for two years and on the committee for a further three before that.

In this role, he has helped make Waikawau one of the safest and busiest ramps in New Zealand, collaborating with both local councils, Waikato Regional Council, and iwi to get more harmonious outcomes for everyone concerned.

Ron has only just finished in the role of panellist on the Shoreline Management Project Team for the Thames area. This was for the last 18 months, and a role which Eric has found very intriguing. Sometimes he played a controversial role. Recently, Eric has had input into the Kopu Marine Precinct Redevelopment on behalf of the recreational fishers of the Thames Coromandel district

and stuck to the need for a recreational boat ramp, a non-negotiable item that had to be retained for the good of the community. Eric was successful in this. “I have seen that the last Council has in

general done an excellent job of managing the Thames Coromandel district under what can only be termed, extraordinary circumstances over the last two to three years.The long-term goals are very achievable and if I am elected Mayor, under my guidance, I will see community projects completed and current and new long-term goals set and shared with the people. I use people strengths in areas where I am not strong and this is where I see the difference between myself and other candidates. A Mayor’s key role is to guide the Councillors that the people have voted for and to give them the tools to help their communities.” As Eric sees it, the staff employed by the

Thames Coromandel District Council are also our key people and need to be retained and given further opportunity to gain experience and develop higher skills. For Eric, the Mayoralty is a challenge to lead a group of people to do the best they can for their communities. It is a role of service. “If elected, I will serve in this role well and with energy, unencumbered with any political, social or cultural bias.”

Eric Carter: Mob. 027 496 6609


John Freer

John with is wife Deb are residents of Onemana, near Whangamata. He is a committee member of the Onemana Residents and Community Association, a member of the Thames Business Association and with Deb, is a member of the Whangamata Community Patrol.

John is a former Thames Journalist adding to his experience of being the Editor of the Daily Telegraph in Australia. He is a former Thames Valley Representative rugby player and now Manager of the Thames-based Goldfields Shopping Centre. Prior to this, he was Manager of the Whangamata Golf Club as well as holding management roles for other sporting bodies. John says he got his very first job in Thames. John launched his Mayoral campaign last year, as he was keen to start meeting and listening to community feedback and matters of concern to people around the Coromandel Peninsula. “I have spent these last several months gaining an understanding of what people desire. There is no room for towns to compete. I can bring people together. I have done this throughout my career and I would like to do it for the wider council. Cohesive caring communities are the basis for any functioning society. A Mayor must have this as a priority, underpinning any policies and plans for change. I have a real interest in making sure our Peninsula moves forward. By moving forward, I mean ensuring we are caring for and looking after our people.

Local government needs to make the connections for a cohesive community, re-empowering our people to have a say and be heard.

They want to be heard on the matters of general health and well-being and availability of health services, safety - personal and community safety, the management of their shoreline, water quality and cost, waste and rubbish, transport. Everything comes back to, “How are our people feeling about these?”

Other matters John will provide leadership on and ensure outcomes are - maximising what people pay as their rates, a strong economic development strategy, developing a diverse community, shoreline management review.

He sees several challenges ahead for the Council, and specifically refers to the Three Waters proposal, The Local Government Act and Resource Management Act reforms as well as the financial minefield of the recently released Long Term Plan and future costs that will flow to ratepayers. “If elected, I want to be ready to contribute from day one and so have been using the past year to listen and understand issues people are facing in the community. It’s vital that core infrastructure meets our community requirements, being water, roads, rubbish, power and communications. While most of these are covered in the current long-term plan, work is still required to ensure those community requirements are met for today’s and the future generations, in the most effective and economical way possible.”

John says he’s not a politician, and that local government needs to remove itself from political agendas. There isn’t the time and resources to engage in that. He believes in a team approach involving all parts of local government including council staff, Councillors, Community Boards,

Ratepayer and Community representatives, Iwi, Business, Economic and Tourism advocates, those involved with the Sport and Recreation, Heritage, Education,

Environment and Health. “Any Mayor and staff and representatives of organisations have to work in harmony.”

John says he’s keen to keep on interacting with community groups .

John Freer: Mob. 0274 839 426


Steve Hart

Steve is a kiwi farmer’s son hailing from Pukekohe. He grew up on his grandparents farm where they all farmed and gardened.

He says he has always had one foot in the paddock, while evolving a career pathway as an Ecology Architect which is the fusion of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design threaded by Systems Ecology.

Consequently, Steve has worked on a wide range of projects through several countries, many in the community domain. Steven lives with his wife Martina and their four daughters on a13 acre garden/farm lifestyle block near Puriri.

Steve’s career pathway has been all consuming, involving many different forays into the wide dynamic that politics is. Last week he was actively engaged in an MPI workshop in Wellington. This week, he will be putting together a major business plan in Tauranga for a national recycling

project which will revolutionise how a number of waste streams are recycled. On Sunday mornings, Steve is an armchair critic watching the All Blacks.

Steve has always been involved in politics at one level or another. Steve believes there is a need for strong leadership in today’s political environment with considerable change unfolding daily. “Leadership means you need to achieve things with your team,”says Steve. He states the need to form a formidable team to effect change to add to the vitality and health of all the residents on the Peninsula. “We are one Peninsula. As a change agent, a designer and builder of many elements across our community and having professional experience in many, I am very well equipped to offer the assistance and facilitation needed through this next political period to ensure safety and resilience for all.” Steve is confident he has a strong capacity to offer TCDC the leadership it deserves. He has worked at senior level in City Councils and consultancies around the world on a vast array of projects; steered a number of community based NGOs involving himself in many political issues from a community standpoint, instigating and facilitating workshops. “I cherish Coromandel’s environment which needs strengthening, both coastal, farm and ranges,” says Steve. “Along with increased landscaping throughout the district, we can add considerable value in waste recycling, marine reserves, and joint venture business.

Balancing the needs of all of our communities will be an exciting task taking into account each village, all environments and landscapes in between. From a security point of view, we have a great and fragile coastline. There’s lots of smart ocean engineers from which to borrow the best engineering for our Coastal Management Plan.”

His sense is that there is too little consultation before major changes are enacted; that there are too many consultants and contractors, that it’s time to bring back the council workers; that communication on many aspects from government to people has disappeared.

Steve says of his Mayoral candidacy: “I feel I need to stand up. I am a natural team player and leader. My career pathway is central to many of the elements that councils require daily. I have worked at senior level inside several councils and am more than familiar with all the cogs. I also cherish our rich environment which needs exceptional management to ensure we all gain from it. It will be true democracy, from the people for the people that will guide us securely into the future. I will run open public forums weekly around the district inviting all issues, debate, argument and positive creativity, for the people by the people. It wont be just ‘fixing potholes immediately’ but building twoway bridges.”

Steve Hart: Mob. 022 075 6211



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