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That was the message from Greater South Dunedin Action Group chairman Ray Macleod to the people vying to be the next mayor of Dunedin at a candidate forum last night.
About 120 residents sat in the Nations Church in King Edward St and listened intently as all 14 candidates explained what they would do for South Dunedin if they were elected.
Mr Macleod told the audience the South Dunedin community needed to become a commanding force in the city's politics and direction, or else it would continue to be neglected.
Issues canvassed during the two-hour event included climate change, sand erosion, council debt levels, offshore oil and gas exploration and managed retreat.
One question from the audience asked the candidates to explain their plans to stop or control the erosion at the St Clair and St Kilda beaches.
Rebuilding the groynes at Ocean Beach was favoured by Cr Andrew Whiley and Jules Radich.
Cr Aaron Hawkins said he was not a civil engineer so would rely on the advice provided to the council, as did Cr Christine Garey, who said there was no reason the city could not be a world leader in fighting erosion.
Scout Barbour-Evans also said they were not an expert and would rely on advice before making any decisions.
Cr Lee Vandervis said there were already simple, cost-effective solutions that the council could try - such as pumping sand back on to the beach - as well as more expensive but proven fixes.
Richard Seager said trying to defeat the ocean was difficult and probably not worth attempting as sea levels continued to rise.
Cr Rachel Elder said there needed to be more investment from the Government.
Mandy Mayhem-Bullock said the issue was not so much erosion as how much the area had been altered from its natural state, and Cr O'Malley said the council's costal engineer should be given a chance to develop a plan, which could include groynes.
Consulting the community on their preferred option was raised by Finn Campbell and Bob Barlin.