Opinion: Park should rue missed chances

Christchuch mayoral candiate Darryll Park. Photo: Supplied.
Christchuch mayoral candiate Darryll Park. Photo: Supplied.
OPINION: The mayoral race has been and gone.

Darryll Park, his campaign team and the business peope who backed him, should think long and hard what could have been.

This was a contest between the right and the left, both at mayoral and councillor level. A lot was at stake; a right leaning council headed by a right leaning mayor would certainly have looked at selling off ratepayer owned assets, like parts or all of the port and airport companies.

These money making businesses are highly sought after. Right wing philosophy is everyone should have a chance to buy into them.

They held the sway last term with the help of like minded councillors, but the dynamics have changed - slightly.

Ratepayer ownership in assets is likely to stay for another term, but that is a likely, not a definite.

Lianne Dalziel was at her most vulnerable this election. She headed a council which needed to make some unpopular decisions, like temporarily chlorinating the water supply. There was the much publicised involvement of her husband in Ocean Cloud, the Deon Swiggs controversy leading into the election, and the storm in a tea cup over the appointment of new council chief exeutive Dawn Baxendale.

Dalziel was also seeking her third term, treacherous waters when there is a mood for change and challengers are circling.

But Park and his team ran an odd campaign, to say it mildly. Park was out of his depth when it came to talking about council and policy specifics, no real suprise given he is a businessman, not a politican.

He could have navigated that but he also appeared not to be media savvy either. Calls from reporters at The Star became increasingly confusing; he appeared unsure whether he or his campaign manager should be answering.

Then he stopped answering our calls, all communication was handled by his manager.

As the days counted own to the election date and The Star continued to reveal some of the behind the scene dust ups between Park and Dalziel's team. And then we were simply told Park wasn't talking to The Star anymore.

The Park team seemed to preoccupied with the Dalziel team.

The fuse was lit early in the campaign when Park did not turn up to a mayoral debate in the eastern suburbs, citing another appointment had prompted his late withdrawal.

Soon after Park's team phoned The Star, revealing he hadn't gone to the debate and wanting to know if Dalziel's team had already been on the phone to us to make political capital.

They hadn't.

So armed with the information Park's team had provided our reporter started making inqurieis. It's what journalists do.

The debate's organiser was not happy with Park's no show, calling it a slap in the face to people in the east.

A ready-made headline: 'No show Park upsets mayoral debate organiser'.

It grated with the Park team and they let us know about. The fact it was they who had tipped us off seemingly not registering on them.

So the 2019 mayoral campaign was one of the most interesting and testy in years. It made for better reading than previous elections.

And Park scored well - securing 28,260 votes compared to Dalziel's 44,811 - good for a rfelative unknown.

It augurs well for him if he decides to make another bid in three years.

And hopefully he will have learned a number of lessons.




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