The view from the top

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

With council elections less than two months away, Paula Hulburt catches up with current mayor John Leggett.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett is a man on a mission.

Three years in office and there is much he wants to achieve; a legacy still being shaped.

On his intention to stand again for the top job John says it was not a difficult decision.

“I think about am I going to be useful or are there others who should step up instead? There are still things I want to do, I want to keep the momentum going,” he says.

The Blenheim lawyer won a landslide victory in 2016 and alongside Rick Ireland and Jamie Arbuckle is one of three confirmed mayoral candidates for the upcoming elections in October.

After a baptism of fire in the wake of the Kaikōura earthquake, John, a two-term councillor, has his eye very much on the future.

But he is quick to point out that none of what he has achieved to date would not have been possible without the support of his council colleagues or his partner, Anne Best,

“Anne has been a big supporter in the last three years, and I couldn’t do this without her. I still have things I want to do, and she gets that.”

Under John’s savvy quietude, a cohesive council has thrived. He is proud of what they [council] have achieved, even if he hasn’t always agreed with the decisions made.

“As mayor, I get just vote. I’m a great believer that if you make an informed decision, it’s a good decision.

‘Strong debate and collective buy-in means we don’t have the bickering you might see elsewhere.

“I’m very conscious about the way I want something to go but you accept it [the decisions] and get on with it”.

Getting the Marlborough Environment Plan (MEP) over the finishing line is a top priority should he be elected again.

A single-source document to replace the Marlborough Regional Policy Statement, the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan and the Wairau/Awatere Resource Management Plan, MEP is a project John feels strongly about.

“Hopefully we can come up with something as a council that not only meets our statutory obligations but a plan that allows the people that are affected by it to live their lives and do what they need to do,” he says.

Moving forward is a key message for the current mayor.

Nine years after he was first elected to council, John is proud to tick-off some of his to-do list.

“Almost three years to the day since we went down the Awatere Hall project route it’s opening.

“I’m really keen to keep the momentum going.

“I’ve spent nine years in council and one of the things I was really hoping to see happen was the lifting of the boil water notice in Seddon.

“We’re really close to that.

Infrastructure upgrades in the next 10 years will see a half a billion-dollar investment by council.

The next Marlborough mayor will have some big decisions to make, says John.

“As a councillor you’re open to public scrutiny and have to be prepared for the attention you get over a decision you make.

“If the community are aware of your decision process it helps. They may not like a rate rise but if they understand why it helps,” he says.

A successful campaign will also see John work alongside a new deputy mayor as Terry Sloan will not be standing.

While wholly appreciative of the work Terry has done, indeed John is quick to praise all his colleagues, he is not opposed to change.

“I’m completely open-minded; see who steps up. It’s important to have fresh ideas and fresh people.

“It’s important to have new people coming in, it brings freshness to any organisation,” he says.

But while he still feels he has work to achieve on behalf of the community, John is happy to put his name forward.

“You’re privy to some pretty ground-breaking decisions for the community and that’s a privilege”.

Nominations for council close on 16 August 2019.

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