Economic development tops agenda

Central Otago mayoral candidate Tim Cadogan (far right) answers a question at a mayoral forum in...
Central Otago mayoral candidate Tim Cadogan (far right) answers a question at a mayoral forum in St Enoch's Church, Alexandra, yesterday. Looking on are (from left) mayoral candidate Martin McPherson, Otago Daily Times editorial manager Philip Somerville, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan and mayoral candidate Tony Lepper. PHOTO: LYNDA VAN KEMPEN
Economic  development was the main focus of a Central Otago mayoralty forum yesterday, with a few detours into lighter topics such as the contents of each candidate's fridge and their favourite movie to watch.

About 20 people attended the forum in St Enoch's Church, organised by the Otago Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Otago Daily Times. The candidates are incumbent mayor Tony Lepper, seeking a third term, long-serving district councillor Martin McPherson, making his third bid for the mayoralty and Alexandra lawyer Tim Cadogan in his maiden attempt.

They faced a series of set questions and also a quickfire round.

Mr McPherson said within 100 days of being elected mayor he planned to call a meeting of developers and ask how to better facilitate growth. Attracting more people to Central Otago - ``baby-boomers and disaffected North Islanders sick of being stuck in traffic jams'' - would spread the rates burden over a greater number of people, he said.

His main goal was to ``make our council as well-loved and user-friendly as possible ... if it is possible for a community to love its district council ... and I want to lead it.''

Mr Lepper said key issues included the affordability of accommodation.

``The good thing is, as Cromwell becomes too expensive, people buy in Alexandra instead, and as Alex becomes too expensive, they buy in Roxburgh and so on.''

The threat posed to irrigation when century-old mining privileges lapsed in 2021 was another concern: ``The scrap then between environmentalists and the producers could be a big threat to us.''

Mr Cadogan said it was important to plan for growth, which had to be sustainable. Good leadership was vital and he ``got on well with most people''. Asked about ``transparency'' in council dealings and between council staff and the public, he said it was important to have open communication.

``I've learnt the hard way over the years, that you have to ask the questions and question the answers''.

Mr Lepper's favourite movie genre was ``something with gratuitous violence in it, probably, like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels''. Mr Cadogan said he would probably have said movies featuring anything other than gratuitous violence ``but then, I did enjoy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels ...''.

The candidates were also asked about their first car, bike, fishing rod or rifle. Mr McPherson said an 80-year-old cane fishing rod with a Bakelite reel, owned by his late father, was a prized possession.

``I don't use it though; it's mounted on the wall as a display piece.''

And the item always found in their fridges was beer in Mr Lepper's case, milk in Mr Cadogan's fridge, while Mr McPherson said his mother-in-law's mint sauce was the fridge mainstay at his home.

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