Queenstown residents and ratepayers will have the chance to
grill those standing for the Queenstown Lakes District
Council and mayoralty tonight during the major election
debate before the 2013 local body elections.
It is the fourth of a series of regional debates organised by
the Otago Daily Times and Otago Chamber of Commerce.
ODT editor Murray Kirkness will co-host the debate,
along with Radio New Zealand journalist Steve Wilde.
Mr Kirkness said it was important those eligible to vote made
informed decisions about the people who would lead the
community and make decisions on its behalf for the next three
Queenstown Chamber chief executive Ann Lockhart said this
year's elections were ''very critical'' and it was vital
anyone eligible to vote was fully informed before casting
Fourteen candidates are standing for the six places in the
Queenstown-Wakatipu ward, along with incumbent mayor Vanessa
van Uden and challenger Al Angus, of Glenorchy.
Mrs Lockhart said with the district plan under review for the
next 12 to 24 months, elected representatives needed to have
''good governance skills'', a good understanding of local
body politics and the district they represented.
''They have to be in touch with their community and their
community's needs, but they also have to have a ... vision
for the district and where they'd like it to be.
''This is especially important because we're such a
The chamber had conducted a survey of its members recently,
which would form the basis of some questions to be put to
Topics included economic development, a visitor levy, the
proposed Queenstown Convention Centre and infrastructure.
Respondents had also answered qualitative questions about how
well the council had performed in the past three years, what
sort of town they wanted Queenstown to become, and where
improvements could be made.
Each candidate would have questions targeted towards them,
but would not know beforehand what they would be asked. Those
questions would be interspersed with ones from the floor.
Mrs Lockhart said it would not be a ''meet the candidates''
forum, but a ''punchy'' election debate targeted at anyone
eligible to vote and wanting to make an informed decision.
The forum will begin at 5.30pm in the Queenstown Memorial
Centre and is free.