Stalking a seat on Queenstown council

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A Queenstown businessman standing for council believes he can handle looming infrastructure pressure stemming from the resort’s rapid growth.

Warwick Stalker, 67, says his lifetime working in services industries like heating, ventilation and plumbing means he can assist in making sure ratepayers’ money is wisely spent.

The owner of R.H.E. Mechanical says: “This town is going to be growing dramatically in the next few years.

“Very shortly we’re going to have infrastructure problems with water and sewerage, electricity problems, roading problems, there’s just an enormous amount of issues.

“I believe somebody with a bit of experience and a reasonably level head is necessary to assist because otherwise we’re going to have all sorts of guys come in here and try and sell bloody deals we can’t afford.

“It’s a very expensive trick to do, and we’ve got to be very sensible the way we spend our money.

“When you see consultants’ reports come across the desk at council, I’m often wondering whether the council have the ability to know what the hell they’re looking at, half the time.

“It’s not their fault, but it’s something that I understand.”

Stalker also believes some form of visitor tax is necessary despite objections from the accommodation sector.

“We’ve got such a small revenue base with our ratepayers here that it does cause us concern when we’re servicing about three times that amount of people.”

Stalker says he’s dealt with hundreds of people in his business over the years so also has the experience to work with both council staff and fellow councillors.

“I’ve been involved in every Lions and Jaycees you can ever think of, I’ve been chairman or president of most of them.”

A resident for 20 years, Stalker joins four other new candidates in the race to October so far – lawyer Nicola Vryenhoek, radio DJ Craig Ferguson, ex-health board member Fiona McArthur and former PR queen Alexa Forbes.

The QLDC old boys fight back at retiree criticism

A man backing council election candidate Warwick Stalker is questioning the motives of local pensioner-councillors.

Queenstowner David Hunt, who officially nominated Stalker, says: “I think too often we get people who might be well-meaning but they’re retired and have a lot of time on their hands so they just think they’ll stand for council for lack of something better to do,” he says.

One-term Queenstown councillor Trevor Tattersfield, 72, who’s standing again, shoots back: “If you look around world leaders, there’s a lot of people in my age bracket.

“The difference with me is I’ve had a lifetime of experience working with local authorities.

“I know what it’s all about and I know what works and what doesn’t work.”

Two-term Queenstown councillor Mel Gazzard (left), 68, who calls himself semi-retired, says: “I don’t think it’s about age and I don’t think it’s about being retired.

“I think it’s just wanting to contribute something into the community and having the time and energy to do it.”

Gazzard says he’s undecided about standing again. Arrowtown councillor Lex Perkins, 73, couldn’t be contacted – he’s overseas.