Hamilton City, New Zealand

Jose Gonzalez

Proud migrant from Chile and NZ citizen. Lived in Hamilton for over a decade, mainly working in local government. Known for managing the Te Huia Passenger Rail Service from Waikato to Auckland. Standing for youth, diversity, better transport and a carbon neutral HLZ. Let’s challenge the status quo!

I want to make our city a great place to live, where families and future generations can have an even better quality of life.

I’m standing for a city that embraces diversity, supports its youth, provides affordable and accessible transport, acts on climate change, and has fair rates for council services.

I want Hamilton to be a city with great public transport, where our children can bike safely to school whilst breathing clean air, and diversity is at the forefront of our identity.

Hamilton is a young and diverse city, with a median age of 32 and 46,000 people that were born overseas. We must find better ways for these groups to be represented in Council. A young city needs young leaders like me!

The current Council funding model for is not fit-for-purpose! Under the current cost of living crisis, we cannot continue to put most costs on ratepayers. Central government must pay their fair share towards our city’s growth.

For the last 5 years I’ve worked in local government, leading and delivering the Te Huia train service. My council experience and passion for our community makes me the ideal person to lead our city in the challenging times ahead.

Hamilton’s population growth has been larger than Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington from 2017 to 2021, with a total increase of 8%. Projections show that Hamilton’s population will be 200,000 by 2028 and 310,000 in 50 year! The biggest issue our city faces is catering for growth whilst retaining a good quality of life for ALL Hamiltonians.

Thus, the most important issues are:
1. Currently our water infrastructure capacity is under a lot of pressure, with large capital investment required to keep up with growth (additional demand). We must develop infrastructure years in advance (i.e. water, public transport, roading, waste) so we can accommodate future growth.
2. Statistics showing that 64% of Hamilton’s emissions come from transport and more than 85% of all trips are done via car means we must act now. We need to get on with the delivery of improvements to our transport network to move our population in mass and rapidly. This will directly tackle our traffic levels and climate change!
3. The cost-of-living crisis coupled with Council being at maximum borrowing levels, means that the ratepayer cannot continue to bankroll our city’s growth. Central government must pay more for our city’s growth.

No, I am running as an independent candidate, with no political party affiliations (directly or indirectly) to any registered political party or grassroots political movement.

I’ve been working in the Waikato Regional Council for 5 years, and during this time I’ve seen local councillors being more approachable than central government politicians, and more involved with the issues that our communities are facing. This means that when representing their constituents, they represent a variety of political views, so I think to best represent those that will vote for me, I need to run as an independent.

This also means that I do not have a hidden agenda so I can, impartially and objectively, get the best outcomes for our city.

I recognise that the current 3 waters model needs urgent reform. However, I do NOT support the Water Services Entities Bill in its current form, and I note that either a full re-write or substantial amendments are required.

Here is why:
1. The issue with 3 waters isn’t who owns the assets, manages, and operates it. The issue is the funding model and I think any type of reform should tackle this as a priority! Hamilton City Council is close to maximum debt levels, and we cannot continue to put the cost on the ratepayer (nor it is fair) so we need central government to partner up with local government so together, we can future proof our stormwater, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.
2. The funding model associated with the 4-water entities is vague. The entities would have powers to charge for water through a capital value rate (like now in Hamilton), charge through water meters or other charging method of their choosing. We need to know more about this as the root cause of the reform is the current state of our water infrastructure and services due to the lack of funding to maintain our assets. If central government is going to fund all of it, they should make it clear how they plan to do this.
3. Council needs full clarity of how the assets will be transferred, including debts and liabilities. Otherwise, we could be signing up to a massive financial risk. The details haven’t been provided by central government yet.
4. Any bill that impacts our resident n

I support Maaori wards as they deliver on the agreements made between Maaori and the Crown through Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It is also a mechanism to ensure a large proportion of our population is fairly represented in Council.

Co-governance has worked well for some Councils, like the Waikato Regional Council, to manage the Waikato River. Legislatively it is a form of Governance enabled through Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I am supportive of co-governance when collaboration and partnership can create better outcomes for our city.

I think there is a long list of examples of Council successfully partnering with Central Government to deliver great outcomes for our community like the Hamilton expressway section, Peacocke greenfield project, Te Huia train service and others. This does show that our Councillors and Mayors do a good job at lobbying central government to get more for our city.

However, I think our city doesn’t get the same level of financial support as other big cities in New Zealand, like Auckland and Wellington. This is a big issue as they want Hamilton to accommodate large portions of New Zealand’s future population growth, but they don’t want to foot the bill! Central Government made changes to the Resource Management Act so developers can develop medium density housing without overly restrictive rules, but we haven’t received a funding package to make this happen.

If elected, I will continue to build on the successful partnership work that Council has done and I will push harder so we get a better deal from Central Government for Hamilton. A strong collaborative framework with central government is paramount in the challenging times ahead.

Having worked for the Waikato Regional Council (WRC), the public transport authority for our city and region, I noticed that there are misalignments between our city’s public transport (PT) services and infrastructure. This is mainly because PT services are managed by WRC and PT infrastructure by Hamilton City Council. In my view, it will be far more efficient and better value for money to the ratepayer if HCC stepped back in the provision of infrastructure like bus shelters, real-time technology and signage, and let the Waikato Regional Council do this.

A PT business improvement review was done in 2021 by WRC which explores options that enable some of this with and without legislative changes. For us to address Hamilton’s transport challenges going forward, this will need to be resolved.

Given that roughly 56% of Hamiltonians between 18-24 are enrolled in comparison with approximately 95% of those that are 60+ (as of 31 July 2022), the low turn-out in Hamilton’s last election isn’t surprising. Younger Hamiltonians have lower enrolment rates than older Hamiltonians.

Council has a very important role in developing election and council information that should reach all age groups. However, this hasn’t been done well by Council so younger generations can better understand the role of Council and why it is so important they exercise their right to vote. This is exacerbated by the fact that Hamilton is a ‘student city’ so many young residents live here but are enrolled to vote outside of Hamilton. If elected, I will push harder so platforms like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are used to engage with them as their voice matters!

I think this is also driven by the average age of our councillors, which is around 55! Is council really a place for youth? This also comes down to voters not having any candidates that they feel represented by, so they are deterred from voting.

Lastly, our voting system means that we must physically mail the voting papers in or go to a voting place. This is very old school, considering latest technological advancements. E-voting would take voting turn-out right up!

For a Councillor to walk the talk, he needs to live in the community that he is representing, so yes, they should live in Hamilton. However, I do acknowledge that in our case, we have many people that work in Hamilton and live in the metro area (i.e. Cambridge, Raglan, etc..). I would recognise them as Hamiltonians.

Yes, I think there should be a limit. Not sure of the right number as this should be determined by evidence-based thinking that shows when local leaders stop being fully democratically representative of their communities and aren’t delivering on outcomes for our city. We have missed out on some potentially very strong local leaders in the past due to the old guard being re-elected repeatedly!

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