Candidates shy about mayoral choice

Carmen Houlahan speaks to the audience at the candidates' meeting at the Opoho Presbyterian...
Carmen Houlahan speaks to the audience at the candidates' meeting at the Opoho Presbyterian Church last night. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH

Dunedin City Council hopefuls are keener to divulge the political party they support than admit who they would vote for for mayor.

Twenty candidates attended a forum at the Opoho Presbyterian Church last night, the second of two on consecutive nights. It was for candidates with surnames from A-L.

Candidates were given two minutes to speak. They also took part in a multi-choice answer session about council issues, and in a rapid-fire interview with meeting chairman Philip Somerville.

Fewer than half would divulge their mayoral vote, prompting Mr Somerville to surmise that perhaps they were hopeful of being awarded council committee roles.

Mayoral candidates could disclose their second choice for mayor, and, on the whole, they were more willing to name their favourite than the council-only candidates.

Some candidates pointed to ``whingers'', negativity, and ``backward thinking'' when asked in the quick-fire session to name the worst aspects of Dunedin.

About 150 people attended the forum.
About 150 people attended the forum.
Mayor Dave Cull believed the city was let down by ``negative whingers'', and David Benson-Pope went further, chiding the council's online critics, ``people who think when they are blogging that the normal rules of human decency no longer apply''.

Mr Cull said he did not support a particular political party.

Mr Benson-Pope, Ronald Fung, Ann Galloway, Carmen Houlahan and Neville Jemmett supported Labour.

National supporters included Bruce Fairhurst, Malcolm Dixon, Doug Hall, Nanette Linklater, Hamish Fraser, Chris Adams. Others either voted for other parties, or would not say.

Union organiser Ann Galloway's nomination of the harbourside molars sculpture as one of the city's worst qualities drew a big laugh. She also nominated poor quality housing.

The biggest laugh went to cannabis proponent and mayoral candidate Abe Gray, who, when asked for a favourite recreational activity, said that as a botanist he enjoyed fossicking for ``rare plants''.

Mayoral candidate Scout Barbour-Evans said they would fight to take control of the city's public transport system from the regional council. They wanted to improve the working conditions of bus drivers.


Online critics = paper tigers. If you don't like it, engage. You can only be accused of the worst kind of positivity (eg, liking Cr JM), or banned from the site. It doesn't do to be too sensitive, and there are limits to what can be said within the law.



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