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Nicola Young is running for mayor and this is what she has to say.
K: Why do you want to be mayor?
N: I’m a Wellingtonian. I was born here. I spent a long-time away when I was married and living in Britain, and since coming back I’ve had a really good career here and I feel the time has come to serve the city.
It’s a fantastic city and we have so many areas with fantastic potential, one of the greatest of course being the student population.
Wellington needs some strong leadership right now, and it needs someone who really cares about the city.
K: You say you’re not in it to be a career politician, do you think some of the other candidates are?
N: Absolutely. I think we should have term limits, because I don’t think anyone should be on council for more than twelve years.
I’m on the council to get things done. I campaigned to make more of a feature of the laneways and those have been rolling out really successfully, and I worked to get the lights in the walkway down from Boyd-Wilson Field.
If you can’t get your things done in twelve years then you’re never going to get them done. You should come in with a blast of energy, work like mad, and then go. After twelve years you’re no longer serving the city, the city’s just giving you a job.
K: Where do you see gaps in WCC’s current infrastructure and spending?
N: The first thing would be looking at the 5.4 per cent residential rates increase the council just approved in the context of almost no inflation. Over the past four years in the city centre rates have increased 20 per cent—I don’t know anyone whose wages have gone up 20 per cent. The knock-on effect of this for students renting is landlords increasing rent.
We need to stick to our core role of running the city and stop the vanity projects. I’m not going to make any grand promises, but what I will do is freeze rates at inflation, stick to core business, and save money by cutting back on waste.
K: What are the problems you see for students?
N: Housing is a real problem. Too much of of it is highly unsatisfactory and there’s also not enough of it. I’m not saying the WCC should build more housing, but they can incentivise developers, VUW can put money into it, and the council has a lot of levers it can pull to make this sort of thing happen.
The other thing is the WoF issue. It’s a really good idea, but I’m concerned about unforeseen consequences such as the way it will push up the price of rent, because if landlords have to do work on their flats they will have to increase rent. Couple that with the rates increase and it doesn’t look good. A WoF will also probably decrease the supply of accommodation when we need to increase it.
K: If elected, in three years time where would you see Wellington?
N: I’d want to see the Urban Development Agency underway to help provide more student housing. I want to open proper talks with VUW, because if the students weren’t here it would rip the heart out of Wellington. We need to recognise how important the students are to the city. We need to allow students to thrive in Wellington.
Economic growth is going to be really important for supplying jobs to students while they’re studying as well as really good career opportunities for when they graduate.