Weekend Sun   

Robson returns to Tauranga City Council

He might have lost his seat after one term in 2016, but former Tauranga city councillor John Robson has been given a second chance by voters after winning the recent by-election.

As the successful candidate from a field of 20, John will be sworn in at an extraordinary council meeting on Monday. After that, he intends to get to work.

“The big thing is, can we move these numbers [proposed rate increases] between now and signing off the Long Term Plan? I believe I've been elected because a number of people want to see that happen.”

Current councillors Steve Morris and Rick Curach both publicly supported John's bid for council and he says he'll be working alongside them to make sure there are changes to the Long Term Plan.

To begin with, he's not a supporter of the museum as it stands.

“I've made it pretty clear I'm totally against the proposed $55 million museum on Cliff Road. It's a matter of prioritisation. We have some things we need to do as a city, and some of the arguments for a museum just don't wash. It's not a great economic stimulus, and we don't need to attract people to this city.”

He says our roads are “grinding to a halt” and the issues with the city's recycling need to be addressed.

“The idea we need to pander to tourism is not at the top of my agenda. Promising large buildings and telling people we can finance them without touching the ratepayer is a fantasy. We need to focus on successfully managing a growing city. That means the water, the roads, and the basics. Let's see where we are once those are under control.”

Nearest rival Mark Wassung, who was significantly ahead of the other candidates and only a few hundred votes short of winning, believes the result shows there are two kinds of voter in Tauranga.

“There’s clearly a divide in this city, between people who want to be strategic and progressive and plan for a future, and the camp that wants to shut down everything and go back to the past.”

He says he first ran to be a councillor in 2016, and exceeded his own expectations in coming sixth out of the at large candidates back then.

“I think this time the big field of candidates split the vote – if I’d picked up votes from other candidates I might have nailed it. But that’s life.”

Although he didn’t win, Mark says the result has buoyed him, and he plans to run again in 2019.

“I’m upbeat about it. I’ll continue to do work with all three councils and the community.”

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