Candidates out to impress tonight

Having seven candidates standing for the Waitaki mayoralty gives voters varied choices they can learn more about tonight at the second Otago Mayoral Debate.

The Waitaki debate in the Oamaru Opera House's Ink Box starts at 5.30pm.

Two-term Mayor Alex Familton announced before nominations opened he was not seeking re-election, creating much interest in who would fill his shoes.

Not many voters will be familiar with all seven candidates, so the debate offers them the opportunity to hear what the hopefuls have to say. Candidates will answer set questions with strictly limited time to answer, and questions from the audience.

Organised by the Otago Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Daily Times, the debate will follow the format of similar events held in past local body elections, with entry to the venue free.

The debate will be chaired by chamber chief executive John Christie and ODT editorial manager Philip Somerville.

Even though the Waitaki District Council has held down rates rises in the past few years, the increasing burden of rates on low-income and fixed-income ratepayers is still likely to be an issue. Farmers have also been worried by increases beyond the overall average because of changes in property values.

Roading costs, economic development and more specific issues such as the construction of tearooms overlooking Friendly Bay at Oamaru Harbour or plans for a retirement village on council-owned land on Hospital Hill could also be raised.

Answering the questions tonight will be candidates Felicity Butcher, Jim Hopkins, Gary Kircher, Greg Smith, Eric Spittal, Helen Stead and David Wilson.

 

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