Mayoral Candidate: Julie Jukes

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Today we continue our Meet the Mayoral Candidate’s series with local business women and mayoral hopeful, Julie Jukes. 

Julie Jukes
Age: 47 (I turn 48 on election day)

How does the community know you best?
As the owner of Rosita’s.

What do you have to offer the district?
I believe I have great qualifications for the position of Mayor. As a current councilor, I have
experience which, I believe, stands me in good stead going forward. I have good knowledge of
the current issues so can hit the ground running. I also have a background in local government.
I started my career as an auditor, I am an accountant by trade. I was director of corporate
services at the Whakatane District Council before deciding I wanted to move into the private
sector. Furthering my passion for fashion, I opened Rositas, so have now experienced both sides ­ the
public and the private. I have a proven leadership record, having previously managed 48 staff.
Collectively this gives me the qualifications and the experience to take the town forward.

Why should people vote for you as opposed to the other candidates?
I come in with fresh ideas and believe I see things with a fresh pair of eyes. I believe that is what we need at this time and it is something I passionately want to do. I see the Mayoralty as a full­time job and one where you are representing the community, in other words it is a customer­focused type of business and I believe I have the skills to do that.
I’ve got a real can­do attitude and I’m a very, very positive person. I like to get things done. I think it comes down to the fact that now is the right time to take on that full­time responsibility.

What is your vision for the Eastern Bay/ how do we achieve this?
I want to see this district as the place people want to come to work, live and play. I really love
the easy, relaxed lifestyle that we have and think there’s lots of ways we can maintain it.
We can have a little bit of growth through population but we can also do a lot more by increasing
our tourism and trying to promote bigger businesses to come here. I think we can achieve that
by, as a council, working collaboratively with people. By having a lifestyle/retirement village here we can retain people in the district. I believe we are losing far too many because we don’t have one. We have to have the right infrastructure as
well, we have to get that in place. We also have to rezone land. It’s really important to me that we plan for the future and plan for the growth we want. We need to have it determined where in the district we want this growth to
actually occur and plan for it. That has to happen before we can work on this second bridge that is needed in the district. If we  don’t know where the people are going to be we don’t know where to put the bridge. There’s a
lot of things we need to be working on now for the future.

What are we currently doing right / and what are we doing wrong?
What we’re doing right as a council is we are working well together as a team. Because the only
way you can affect change and move ahead is by working together. Everybody is only one voice
around the table and it has to be a united way forward ­ and we are doing that very, very well.
We’re being very pro­active. We are getting things on the table, discussed and resolved and
finding a way ahead. What I don’t think we are doing well is I don’t think we have done enough planning, I’m not sure
there is a clear enough vision for the future. As I said before, we need to sort where our growth
will be happening and that will link into a lot of other things. I think we are doing very well with what we’ve started to do with our economic development and what we’ve started to do with our tourism ­ we just need to be doing a little more in these areas. Where do you think we should be in ten years ­ a tourist or agriculture­based economy?
I think, by nature of what the district actually is, we are always going to have that core
agriculture base. Our climate leads to good kiwifruit growth and good pastoral growth and I don’t
think that is going to change. But I think we are going to get growth in tourism. It’s going to be a
combination of both. I think the only way forward is to work in both sectors.

How should we be co­operating with our neighbouring districts?
I think well. We have to be looking at shared services for a start. There are moves from central
government, with water, for example. We do have BOPLASS, under which we work together on
things like IT. We do have to have good relationships. It is the way forward and pressure from central
government to have shared services means it is something we will have to be proactive in
looking at ­ working with our neighbours. It’s always a tough one because the bigger something gets, the less local democracy there actually is, so it has to be carefully done.

Do you think we have anything to learn from Tauranga and Rotorua?
Yep, absolutely. Rotorua for example, should be held up for what they have done for tourism
over the years and how they do it. They’ve got magnificent mountain bike tracks that we can be
using as an example. We’ve got our Eastern Bay cycle strategy that we need to be taking
further ­ getting those links through with Opotiki and the Motu Trails.

There’s money in cycleways and walkways, which Rotorua is doing very well. Tauranga ­ yes ­ their urban growth. That’s something we need to look at ­ how they’ve managed that. They’ve achieved that very successfully. Tauranga has just grown and grown and grown, there’s lots of good lessons there. I think it’s always good to look at the neighbours
and see what they’re doing well and see how we can replicate it.

Where do you stand on a Piripai development?
I am adamant we do need to have a retirement village here. We’re losing too many people from the district by not having one. There’s very little available land the size we actually need for a
retirement village. This is a block of land the council owns and we can be proactive in actually
working towards having a retirement village there. It’s not easy to find land that size so this is a
very good opportunity for us to take it. When we do get all the ducks lined up the market will be
determining whether it thinks it’s a good site or not because developers won’t be interested if
they don’t believe it’s suitable. Unless we take it to the market we won’t actually find out.

Where do you stand on a second bridge?
A second bridge is very important to us. But I think it comes back to what I said earlier, we have
to first determine where we want the growth to be occurring in the district before we can actually
determine where we put a second bridge. I don’t think there’s any doubt we will need it ­ we just
have to make sure we’ve got the best business case to put forward to actually justify it and I do
think that means we have to have good residential planning to help our case. It’s a huge
expense, well over the $20 million mark. To look to get government funding we’ve got to make
sure we’ve got the strongest case we can.

Do you believe we have a housing shortage ­ both low cost and retirement? How do we
solve this?
I’ve spoken about the retirement side of things. Yes, we do have issues with low cost housing.
The average price of a house is a lot more expensive here than it is in other parts of the country
­ especially for a district this size. We have to free up more land to actually have more affordable
sections become available. There’s lots of different ways you can do it ­ you can infill, you can
rezone, you have to work with developers whenever you can, and whatever way you can, and
part of that is looking at our consenting process as well. You also have to work with central
government.

Is council red tape hindering economic growth?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it is hindering the growth, I think it’s just the fact it is a very complex
issue that isn’t solved overnight. There is a lot of planning, a lot of research and a lot of statistics
required in making decisions. Getting all that information aligned takes time. Also, factored in to
the decision­making has to be rates affordability. We could say we’ll add another $2million to
the rates to get things done but can the ratepayer afford that? There is a lot of things that have
to be taken into consideration. Council is very proactive and very supportive toward economic
development and we do try to help where we can. A lot of our rules and regulations are central
government imposed ­ we can’t change them ­ and there are some things that just can’t be sped
up ­ they take what they take. But having said that, there are things we could do better and
more efficiently and we should always be looking at trying to do that. And working with
developers and big businesses ­ if a big business puts their hand up and says we want to open
up in town, we should be actively saying, “How can we help you to make that happen?”

Should council look at external funding sources to help economic growth?
Absolutely. There’s a lot of central government funding that comes to walkways and cycleways
that we can be proactively accessing. I think we do try and get funding when we have projects
to complete ­ we did the Mokoroa Gorge walkway with mostly central government funding. If you
can get outside sponsorship for events that would be the ideal model. Sometimes, to have to
contribute ­ it might not always be money, it might be staffing, but where we can get something
happening here, we should. There are always proven benefits, whatever you spend you get that
money back two­fold.

What do you think is the most underutilised asset Whakatane has?
Probably the sun. While not the sunshine capital at the moment, there’s definitely things we
could do to promote that more. Also I think the promotion of White Island as well. There’s
certainly more in that area we could do for the jewel in the district’s crown.
Is it time for a change or are we better to stick with what we know?
I’ve decided to put my hat in the ring for the mayoralty because I feel I can take on the role, so
obviously I’m promoting change. As councilors we are working well together as a team so I
guess that’s the voter’s decision to make whether or not they think we have been doing a really
good job. Or they want some new faces in those roles.

All candidates were asked the same questions on things relevant to the Eastern Bay.

-Katee Shanks / NewsWhakatane
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