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Meet your Mayoral candidates

Last week we provided candidate profiles for three of the seven people standing for Mayor in the upcoming local body elections. This week we present the four remaining Mayoral candidates. In the coming weeks we will also be providing information on candidates standing for other positions in the elections. The Informer is expressing no political bias and candidates are presented in alphabetical order. Last week we introduced Eric Carter, John Freer and Steve Hart.

Ron Julian

Ron has a professional background in Strategic Asset Management and Project Management primarily in the construction industry with buildings and civil projects, asset utilisation, and cost management. These projects have been both in New Zealand and off-shore. He also served in New Zealand’s Overseas Development Assistance Programme to the Pacific in training, liaison, and project leadership roles. Ron hails from this region, and he has two daughters, two sons, and eight grandchildren.

In recent years, camping-grounds both sides of the peninsula have received Ron’s leadership. He owns two camping grounds and works to develop and enhance tourism. Ron works to maintain traditional New Zealand holidaying and developing the tourism sector bringing corresponding revenue to the Coromandel Region.

Ron’s Interests outside of politics include all sports particularly rugby and motor racing, classic American cars, boating, fishing, travel, architecture, buildings, and enjoying time with family and friends. “I think that the current council has not done too bad a job. I’m not shooting arrows at those who have been doing the work. Councils are quite heavily mandated with how they need to operate. However,there does need to be a more front-facing and people-focussed style where treating people with fairness and equity becomes the culture at all levels of local government and that includes the employed staff as well as those elected.”

Ron describes himself as a “right-wing greenie”, supporting a culture of responsibility, recycling and sustainability. Ron believes there is a lot to do and that climate events will require focus and some pre-planning so that the Peninsula has the resources to cope with them. He is standing for Mayor because he believes in the strategic leadership and strong business experience and common sense decision making he would bring. He acknowledges that he can be a visionary and that can never be underestimated. As well, he has learned to be practical and pragmatic without getting lost in the low-end detail. Ron sees this is a good blend for the job of Mayor.

“I am less about changing and more about focussing on what’s important, good solutions and best value going forward. As well as promoting innovation and supporting our business community, I’ll focus on the core essentials of improving our roading network, water and sewerage infrastructure, and continue the environment management strategies. There will be the important role of lobbying central government for the priorities and resources needed for this amazing region that multiplies its population many times over certain times of the year.

I’m not a career politician. I’m here to govern and lead the councillors n determining direction and priorities. I am committed to support the voter and ratepayer with respect and equity to live a better life in this beautiful region.”

Ron Julian: Mob. 021 986 010 email:

Peter Pinkham

Peter is Waikato born, educated and raised, a son of dairy farmers (share milkers for the most of that time). He is well known in the district due to his very good bookshop in the centre of Thames.

As a young adult, Peter went to University in Wellington, after which he travelled/ hitchhiked around New Zealand and the world for 5 years; in effect circling the globe. Peter says of this journey, that he was lucky enough to meet lots of amazing people, see wonderful places and be exposed to different lifestyles.

In adult life, Peter has trained extensively in psychiatric nursing, psychology, and psychotherapy, for a time operating a therapeutic community, managing a local hospital and GP practise. Alongside that, he learned computer programming and for several years was a consulting business analyst for a large recycling company in Auckland as well as purchasing a half share in a furniture manufacturing business. Being a business analyst involved designing database programs and costing systems for manufacturing, trucking and wholesale companies.

Peter has always been very involved in the communities in which he has lived and travelled extensively.

Six years ago, Peter moved to Thames and purchased the bookshop in Thames which was a spur of the moment sort of thing. After he expanded that, he opened an art gallery for 18 months as well. He became more involved with life in Thames while growing the book and jigsaw business, and developed a great interest in the Coromandel as a whole, regularly travelling around the peninsula.

As for standing for Mayor, “The role is important and vitally interests me. I feel that the skills, experience (on a whole lot of different levels) and knowledge that I have accumulated about life and business are appropriate. I am not community minded but rather it is more that I care for community in which I live and I would like to contribute in a positive way. I would like to see the main shopping areas in the Coromandel be called pedestrian and parking friendly zones, where people in cars are restricted to a 30 mph speed limit, and people crossing the street and people parking are given priority. I also think that the Vibe has to be moved in Thames - the idea of separating the two main shopping areas, as well as blocking a part of the roundabout is both ridiculous and inconvenient for visitors and locals.”

In addition, Peter will work for a more transparent decision-making process on contracts, policies and budget undertakings. “This is needed for trust from the people and for involving the people in the future of their communities. Policies should be based on the idea of helping all our people achieve what they want from life. “ says Peter.

“The major medium to long-term issue is how we deal with climate change and to reduce our effect on this change as a whole peninsula. Ideally we want to protect what we have.”

Peter Pinkham: Mob. 021 404 649 email:

Len Salt

Len Salt’s preparation for Mayor of TCDC began three years ago, when he stood against the current Mayor, Sandra Goudie. Len recalls, “A day before nominations were due to close, there were no other names in the running. There would not be an election if nobody else stood. I did not expect to win, but I wanted at least a debate on the key issues facing our voters.”

Len has had a variety of business experience. He is an audio engineer, has owned and managed manufacturing operations, run a timber processing plant, and an award-winning retail operation and currently is Vice-President of Greypower Mercury Bay, and Chair of Creative Coromandel. Len is committed to using his organising ability in four key areas:

One -Water. When 2019/20 water supplies across the district fell critically low and tankers were going as far as Hamilton to get water, Len formed the Whitianga Residents and Ratepayers Association (WRRA) with some willing helpers, to work with TCDC and the Mercury Bay Community Board on an alternative water supply for Whitianga, Wharekaho and Matarangi. “Water quality and supply is still a major issue before the district,” says Len. Regarding Three Waters, Len says, “….everyone knows that local bodies need partnership, not power taken way. Taking into account what local communities have already invested and planned, will go a long way to achieving excellent water services for everyone. Thames Coromandel district has 494 kms of of coastline; a set $794m budget over the next 30 years for water treatment, reticulation and quality work; and already, $89m in water related debt. No one has all the answers but we cannot leave it to one central power.”

Two-Managing waste. Len will focus on increased waste volumes, especially from construction, in the Mercury Bay Area. Len understood that Council had a robust waste minimisation strategy in place, but it wasn’t working in the areas where there wasn’t resource recovery centres. “Too much valuable material was going to landfill.” Len helped form the Mercury Bay Resource Recovery Centre Trust. From that, the first e-waste drive was held - 12,000 kgs saved from landfill and $250,000 was secured to open a new resource recovery centre. “These facilities can return funds to community projects, create jobs and opportunities for local people.”

Three – Transparency. “There is a need to undertake a total review of the “contracts model”. Currently, contracts for works and services are negotiated and decided upon are public excluded. Some contracts are made for 10 years, eg the discussion around solid waste contracts. Len believes this process is not good enough and it keeps the rate payer out in the dark. “The council’s role is not to be a subcontractor. There are lots of examples of works that could be done by council having works capabilities themselves.”

Four - Business development. There is huge scope for Centres of Excellence - enable space for small hi tech innovative hubs in areas such as agriculture, waste innovation, digital marketing, computer game development, hospitality tourism. To bring these young start-ups would resource and expand possibilities for the whole Coromandel Peninsula.

Len promises to work with the Thames Coromandel area as a whole connected unit. He is clear that outside the main centres, there is a perceived lack of investment in smaller communities. He sees that volunteer groups across the region needed more support and less red tape to achieve their projects. All of the above factors contributed to his decision to stand for Mayor.

“When standing for Mayor, you represent the whole district. The work that our Council has done on the Shoreline Management plan has been visionary. The work put in is years ahead of where we could have been. There’s a lot to do and I am ready for it.”

Len Salt: Mob. 021 619 952 email:

Cherie Staples

Cherie comes with a lot of experience in local and central government and believes experience is the key to the Mayoral chains. The Informer caught up with Cherie on a visit to Whitianga this last weekend.

For 15-years, Cherie has been working with the people of Thames-Coromandel.

She is currently the Deputy Chair of Thames Community Board; a Justice of the Peace and also the well-known Parliamentary Community Engagement and Communications Advisor/Senior Manager in the Thames office of Coromandel MP, Scott Simpson.

Cherie is promising an open-door policy where she believes the welfare and success of residents and ratepayers sits at the heart of Council decision-making. She says 15 years of learning the complexities of how Government operates, while being immersed daily in the issues Thames-Coromandel people care about, has provided an ideal grounding for the job of Mayor. “Over that time, I’ve gained a vast amount of knowledge about everything from Government process and funding streams, to legislation and regulation. I understand the relationship between the Government and local Council and I have built strong, respectful, relationships with Government departments, community groups and other agencies. More importantly, I have been working every day with local people and communities, hearing their concerns, and doing what I can to help solve their issues and get things done. Its what I’m most passionate about.”

Cherie and her husband, Richard have been part of the Thames community for 34 years. “I’ve been the kindy parent, the school camp and sports mum, a netball umpire for our Thames Netball Centre and Thames Valley Netball Cluster. After family and my work, I would say netball is my biggest love. If I’m not working, I’m usually out fishing or boating. “Living in Waiomu is an absolute privilege, there is nowhere else in the world we would rather be.”

Cherie says she is conscious of the many challenges local councils across the country are facing ranging from planning law reform to the impacts of climate change.

“It is easy to make promises, but delivering good outcomes requires more than words. It demands negotiation skills, a lot of listening, positive relationships and knowledge of government processes, all of which I can bring to the table. If we are to emerge successfully as a district from the coming challenges, we need to be working with calm heads and a focus on solutions. Over the coming weeks, Cherie is aiming to meet as many residents as possible and in particular those who may not know her very well.

“I am asking people to put a huge amount of trust and faith in me and my abilities. I’m not naïve enough to think I have all the answers. We have wonderfully smart, creative and innovative people here in the Coromandel and I will welcome their input and ideas.”

Cherie Staples: Mob. 0272994832


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