Mayoral candidates get to grips with issues

Central Otago mayoral candidate Martin McPherson (left) speaks as Tim Cadogan (centre) and Tony Lepper wait their turn. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Central Otago mayoral candidate Martin McPherson (left) speaks as Tim Cadogan (centre) and Tony Lepper wait their turn. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Greedy landlords came under fire, water quality was raised again and mention made of the Eden Hore fashion collection in the first debate of the Central Otago mayoralty campaign.

The three men who want to be mayor made their first combined appearance on the campaign trail yesterday in Alexandra.

Hosted by Grey Power Central Otago, the meeting attracted a crowd of about 100 people, mostly senior citizens.

The three candidates are incumbent mayor Tony Lepper, seeking a third term, lawyer Tim Cadogan, making his first bid for the mayoralty, and district councillor Martin McPherson, who has tried for the top job twice before.

They gave a rundown on their background, leadership style and qualifications for the job before answering questions from the floor.

Mr Lepper said it was good for voters to have a choice for mayor and noted his two challengers ''agree with my policies but not with my leadership style''.

He had proved his worth, helped get the district ''on a roll'' and needed another term to continue the good work.

Mr McPherson, event manager for the Alexandra Blossom Festival, said there was ''more to me than just Blossom Festival''. However, the skills, temperament and attitude needed to make the festival a success were among the attributes he would bring to the job of mayor.

Mr Cadogan said when he moved to Central Otago 21 years ago, he was a solo father on the domestic purposes benefit, so he knew what it was like to live on a fixed income.

His communication skills from his days as a broadcaster and negotiation, mediation and dispute resolution skills from working as a lawyer and Disputes Tribunal referee would stand him in good stead if he was elected as mayor, he said.

The men were asked about empty shops in Alexandra and whether the council could do anything to bring vibrancy back to the business centre.

Mr McPherson said some landlords were too greedy and preferred to leave a shop empty rather than drop their rentals.

Mr Cadogan said people should remember to buy local and suggested displaying the Eden Hore fashion collection in Alexandra might have a flow-on effect on to businesses.

Retail was a ''hard gig'', Mr Lepper said. The council was prepared to support any bright ideas, such as a project developing a ''shanty town '' at the river end of Tarbert St, Alexandra, which would be a visitor attraction.


Couple of ideas from out of town. Get 'Blue Skies FM' on to promotions of Alex, if you haven't already. Mike Bain is your man.

When a Dunedin Mayoral debate is held, greedy city landlords and venal persons will also get the telling off. There is always hope in a disaster area.

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