Political newcomer Aksel Bech, 52, won the two-way election for the Waikato District Council’s Tamahere ward in the October 2016 local body elections.
Bech, who succeeded three-term councillor Wally Hayes, polled highest with 815 votes to his rival Donna Nichols’ 619 votes on election night.
Bech thanked Hayes for his service to Tamahere saying that Hayes, who failed in his bid for the mayoralty, had served Tamahere with “integrity and passion for the past three terms.”
Bech, who is a Tamahere School board of trustees member, thanked Tamahere voters for their support and the trust and confidence they had placed in him. He has been the school representative on the Tamahere Community Committee.
“I look forward to not only representing Tamahere over the next three years but also contributing positively to the overall direction and priorities for the wider Waikato district,” he told Tamahere Forum.
“It’s great to see that whilst voter returns were still modest this year , at least it appears that Tamahere topped the percentage voter turnout for the Waikato District. I hope we can continue to build on that community engagement.”
Contact Tamahere ward councillor Aksel Bech, phone: 021 884 828. Click the following link to email Aksel Bech.
Bech said that during the campaign he had become aware of more issues that he would work on over his council term.
In his campaign, Bech said his priorities would be the protection of the Country Living Zone that covers much of the ward, completion of the Tamahere sport and recreational reserve, issues around the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway coming through Tamahere, and keeping the pressure on to deliver ultra fast broadband to Tamahere.
Now there were more things on his ‘must do’ list, he said.
“I have also become aware of a number of other important issues and factors in the WDC such as the need for a clear council policy on older persons and elder care and a need to focus on cycle and walkways throughout the ward and, indeed, the district.”
Bech, originally from Denmark but raised and schooled in New Zealand since he arrived here aged 14 in 1978, has had a home in Tamahere for 17 years. He and wife Susan and three children have lived in Tamahere since 1999 between overseas travel and spells living elsewhere in New Zealand.
Bech campaigned under the name Aksel Jepsen, a surname he carried from his teens and his step-father’s name, but changed to his middle name, and mother’s maiden name, soon after the election. The process of changing his and his family’s name had to be put on hold to meet the requirements for eligibility under the Local Government Act for the election, but was completed in time for the swearing in ceremony.
He went to school at Karamu High School and Wairoa College in Hawke’s Bay before completing a Bachelor of Science at Massey University and a Masters of Social Science at Waikato University.
He started his working life in Human Resources for the Natural Gas Corporation in the early 1990s when he also married Susan. The couple met at Massey University.
Bech became a New Zealand Citizen in the 1990s. He’s said his Danish heritage would always be important but he found he was “more of a Kiwi at heart” so chose to make a life here.
After some time working in Gisborne, Bech returned to the Waikato to work as Human Resources and Projects Manager for NDA Engineering Ltd.
In 1998 he was one of a team of six that completed a management buy-out of NDA, purchasing the then 100 year old business from New Zealand’s dairy companies’ joint ownership of the business.
NDA grew by acquisition and competition and by venturing in to new sectors. Bech’s role included a focus on the wine industry and he led the equipment sales team.
In 2006, Bech sold his shares in NDA and took the opportunity to focus the next few years on the couple’s three young children, including travelling through Europe and the USA.
He now describes himself as “time rich” and stood for election to be a strong voice for Tamahere.