15 April 2024

Hamilton’s next Mayor: Game is not over yet

All is not lost until the last ball is bowled & played

All eyes are on attaining the top position of the city council (NewsViews)
Gurbir Singh

By Gurbir Singh:

With only days to go before voting closes on 12 October, the fight for the top job in Hamilton is still on and none of the mayoral hopefuls are giving up on this.

Seven contenders – Angela O’Leary, James Casson, John Gielen, Lisa Lewis, Louise Hutt, Mike West and Paula Southgate are out to thwart Andrew King’s attempt to retain the top position for another term.

Some reports suggest the challenge to King’s re-election is mainly coming from – not necessarily in the same order, O’Leary, Southgate and Casson.

But elections can be highly unpredictable and it could still be any one’s game.

With 15,175 (of the 102,714 total electors) of votes already cast until end of yesterday, remaining voters could still be undecided and results may take any turn.

As campaign heats up in the final days, candidates are making a last ditch attempt to sway their minds in their favour.

Present incumbent, Andrew King appears to be unfazed from the growing challenge to stop him from retaining his position.

As a believer of ‘action and results, not words,’ he claims the city is on a sustainable financial footing. 

For him, rates increase of 9.7 per cent was necessary and needed fixing up as “I won’t defer maintenance of our assets”.

The four-term councillor, Angela O’Leary, however, believes she is the “best person to lead the city’s civic government,” as “I have the courage, commitment and integrity to get Council and Hamilton back on track.”

One of the big issues for her is the rates. “Rate increases are too high…People are really worried about the future uncertainly of further rates increases.”

She wants future rates increases to be aligned with cost of living. 

But the former police officer, James Casson believes “It is not a job for the faint of heart or those who cannot take public criticism of which we all get a bit.”

Responding to NewsViews request for comments, he says, “My vast policing supervision background gives me a distinct advantage to be able to see through smoke and mirrors and get straight to the point”.

Casson advocates ‘back to basics’ policy for the council “where the rate payer is put first”, and wants an “end to frivolous council spending.” 

Passionate about making “Hamilton to be one of the safest cities”, he wants council ensuring “infrastructure and facilities remain safe and usable.” 

He was a bit disappointed as “same candidates meetings have not enabled enough interaction for residents to get a real handle on who we are.”  

Paula Southgate a former Chair of the Waikato Regional Council and who missed the top post by a whisker at the last election is for a stable rate base.

“I won’t make promises I can’t keep,” she says. “We must control rates and work smartly to find cost effective solutions”.

In her ‘passion and commitment to lead Hamilton forward’, she is relying on her ‘strong governance background’.

The ‘not just another politician’ Louise Hutt is striving to click with the young voters to “bring the change we need.”

For Hutt, climate change is a “bigger concern” and “we need to factor climate change into every decision we make.”

She has a vision of “getting the basics right- affordable housing and better transport options”.

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