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by Geoffrey Churchman

In January I spoke to Michelle just after she had been elected unopposed to the Waikanae Community Board (see this post). Now she is seeking the top elected job in Kapiti — the Mayoralty. 

The aspect about her that impresses me the most is her pro-activeness — finding out by asking people in the community what their concerns and desires are which the council can help with. As I reported in January, she says she is passionate about the principle of Ratepayers and Residents being listened to by decision makers which in Kapiti often has simply been given token gestures, as I know myself.

She has experience in both the KCDC where she was Roading Manager for two years a decade ago and in central government — she was brought out to NZ from England in 2006 by the then Land Transport Agency (now NZTA a.k.a. Waka Kotahi) — and experienced how decisions get made: knee-jerk reactions without input from those affected on the ground usually characterizes it.  

She delivered multiple infrastructure projects of varying size and scale with different organisations — as well as streamlining processes and undertaking major training activities to upskill staff and professionals. She studied Transport Strategy and Planning at The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, but also has arts interest too and set up the Waikanae Dance School in 2008.

Michelle places most emphasis on the importance of grass roots involvement, in contrast to the top-down management and imposition that in Kapiti characterised the eras of bosses Dougherty and Maxwell. 

Issues that matter as much as anything else to Waikanae and Kapiti people are affordability and value for Rates paid — and Transparency instead of Opacity.

Michelle will look for ways to lower Rates increases and costs of engaging with Council. Some things include removal of late payment fees — these just penalise the people who can least afford higher costs — dog registration fees and how income from this revenue stream is used.

She will ensure that activities and meetings held as part of her role are made publicly available on a weekly basis and, if mayor, will expect that all others around the council table do the same.

If she doesn’t succeed in the mayoral race, she will settle for the consolation prize of being a districtwide councilor.