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Brought up: Dunedin.
Occupation: Unemployed and volunteer.
Council experience: Community representative on the Dunedin City Council’s environment strategy.
Political orientation: Classic left and green.
Describe yourself in three words: Thoughtful, compassionate and caring.
Finn Campbell says we are 10 years behind when it comes to combating climate change and the next mayor needs to enact policies in the next three years which will benefit the city in the long term. After four years as an advocate with Generation Zero and with a master of politics degree from the University of Otago, Mr Campbell wants to move the city to a circular, low-waste economy. He wants better connected cycleways and public transport, which he says will ease the pressure on parking and traffic in the city.
Why should you be mayor?
I have a real passion for this city and a really good understanding of how it works. Because it's my home I want to see it become a flourishing, effective city in the long term, which looks after the needs of its residents. Those long-term needs are how we move around and where we live, which are both deeply connected. I would like us to move to a circular, low-waste economy. These are forward-thinking ideas we need to be doing over the next 30 years. I want to make sure we're taking these short-term steps to enact different transport and housing goals over the next three years.
What are your top priorities?
Climate change is a really complicated problem and we're already 10 years behind where we should be on meaningful action. The most immediate steps would be working with the Otago Regional Council and NZ Transport Agency on the transportation network and the Get Dunedin Moving programme. Changing the cycleways so they are not just a product of compromise but that we are connecting the main areas and flow of people, so people can easily move around, if they don't have access to a car.
Do you have the experience it takes to be a successful and competent mayor?
On paper no. I've been working on climate change and with the council for quite a while. I spent four years as an advocate with Generation Zero, I've sat on the environmental strategy and I've also done my master's of politics. I can't expect to have done too much more at this young age, but I think I've got the head space and clarity to know you can't go around dictating to people how to live their lives and tell them what to do. It is about getting yourself on board with the other councillors and building up a consensus. You've got to be pragmatic.
What is the city doing well and what could be improved?
Dunedin is growing. People are choosing to live here because it's a nice place to be, it's got vibrant arts and culture, it is actually a cheap place to live and it's reasonably accessible. It's got a great environment, it's got great restaurants, it's got everything people would want in a small compact city. But people are starting to realise it is getting harder to move around by car. That has a lot to do with about 85% of passenger trips being made by car. You can't keep on fitting cars into a city of this size and magically find space. It's not about banning the car, but if we put in more cycleways and build up public transport, that would reduce the pressure on the infrastructure servicing cars.
The council has already declared a climate emergency and has put other mechanisms in place to address climate change. What would you do differently?
It's absolutely important we know what is going on and that requires local expertise. I think the most important thing to do is take whatever action you are already doing and bind it to three- to five-year targets. So when we have a 30- to 50-year goal, people start seeing the benefits in the short term as the cost of their transportation goes down or their houses are better insulated.