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Greater access for rural voters

Rural folk in the Mackenzie District will get a greater say in democracy at this year’s local government elections.

For the first time, voters who live in rural areas surrounding the townships of Twizel, Tekapo and Fairlie will be able to nominate and elect the members of those town’s community boards.

The change comes due to public feedback received as part of a representation review held by Mackenzie District Council last year.

Council chief executive Angela Oosthuizen says at the last election only ratepayers living inside the town boundaries were able to vote for community board members. However, everyone in an area, including rural folk, used town facilities like swimming pools and parks and wanted to have a say on how they were run.

The council put a proposal to the Local Government Commission to expand community board boundaries to include rural areas, and this was accepted.

“I hope rural ratepayers get a pleasant surprise when they open their voting papers this year and see they can vote for community board members,” says Mrs Oosthuizen. “But I’m also hoping we get some rural people stepping forward to stand for election as well, because it’s a good opportunity for them to get involved in their community.”

Community Boards

Last year’s representation review also saw another change; a new ward was created in the Tekapo area to recognise the growing population in the Mackenzie basin. This comes with a new councillor position that is also up for election this year.

“These changes will create a new dynamic around the council table that recognises population shifts and helps the district plan better for the future.”

Nominations for these roles are currently open and close at mid-day on August 12. Forms can be picked up at the Fairlie or Twizel council offices.