by Geoffrey Churchman

Last night’s meeting in the Utauta Street Community Hall organised by Grey Power had about 150 members turn up to hear the candidates, and must have been the fullest I’ve ever seen the hall. Someone in KCDC had obviously found a picture of Charles from somewhere to replace the one of Elizabeth in their small picture frame on the wall.

Nearly all council candidates (excluding those contesting the other wards) showed up too, which was welcome and showed that nearly all are taking it seriously, rather than just doing it to promote themselves for other reasons, such as their professional services.

The only non-attendees in the district-wide councilor contest were Michael Scott and Liz Koh. We’re told the latter is on an overseas trip that she organised back in March before deciding to run and is back the end of this week. In the Waikanae Councilor contest only Kate Thomson was a no-show; in fact she hasn’t attended any meetings so can’t be considered a serious candidate.

It was fairly apparent which candidates read us and which don’t. That was also apparent with the question askers.

As always, both the mini-addresses — each candidate got three minutes and could spend a minute on questions — were a real mixture of good and bad, as were the questions.

The inevitable groan inducing “what you are going to do about climate change” made its appearance. The correct questions to ask that weren’t going to result in pasty statements would have been:-

  • What are you going to do to ensure district readiness for severe weather events?
  • What will you do to ensure drains, stream and riverbeds can cope with excess stormwater, including having them cleaned of build-up?

A handful of mask-wearing Jacindanistas were only interested in knowing what candidates had to say in support of the Stuffers’ conspiracy theories, but fortunately they gave up after asking the mayoral and districtwide candidates with the derision from the audience the second time. Mr Mitchell said it was sad questions like that had to be asked and Cr Holborow gave the best answer, “ridiculous” (assuming she meant both the question and the Stuffers.)

But Cr Holborow also made clear she is an unequivocal Guru Gateway supporter, and the only candidate who is. That along with her record of constant support for everything the management proposes, and her bullying those who don’t agree with it, probably mean she’ll need to look for a new job in the Labour Party or Jacinda government service next month.

The candidates that impressed the most were those who had good knowledge and experience of how the system (KCDC and GWRC) actually works, doesn’t work and should work. How active and pro-active they’ll be in office is always a guess with newbies; with incumbents you can go on their track record, including their voting records.

The easiest call is with the GWRC seat — Asher Wilson-Goldman made very clear that if people want anything good to happen, he is the clear choice.

For the Waikanae ward, Nigel Wilson is the standout candidate and Tim Parry is good.

Unlike the other contests the mayoral contest is a tough call as there are 3 good candidates out of the 6 even if they all have weaknesses evident too.

I liked the answers that mayoral candidate Murray Lobb gave on how to deal with rampant council costs escalation — demand that staffers treat all expenditure as if they are spending their own money, stop running off to expensive lawyers and consultants at the drop of a pen and ensure the new CEO does the same. For me, he along with Liz Koh and Michelle Lewis are the three best. But as Murray is contesting the Paraparaumu ward seat rather than district wide, some more pondering is required.