9 August 2022

‘Grow Waikato’: Mayoral hopefuls take a stand on city issues

Mayoral hopefuls take a stand on city issues, state their vision

Mayoral hopefuls with Jamie Strange(L) & in backdrop is the MP as a child (Pic: NewsViews)

Gurbir Singh

By Gurbir Singh:

Hamilton’s mayoral hopefuls yesterday provided an insight into what they stood for on various issues the city is facing and shared their vision for the future.

The ‘Grow Waikato’ event to meet mayoral candidates was hosted by Hamilton’s Labour List MP, Jamie Strange. Six of the eight mayoral contenders who participated were: Andrew King, Angela O’Leary, James Casson, Lisa Lewis, Louise Hutt and Paula Southgate.

Mike West and John Gielen were invited, but could not make it.

Among those present was Margaret Evans who was Hamilton’s Mayor from 1989 to 1998, a few former councillors, and some other candidates who are currently in the race for a seat on the Council.

The audience got the opportunity not only to listen to their future leaders, but also see the childhood photos of four Mayoral candidates- Angela O’Leary, Andrew King, Lisa Lewis and Louise Hut.

Childhood photos of Mayor Andrew King & Louise Hutt (Photos: Supplied)

Casson’s childhood photo was missing as “mum ripped the camera”, but he shared one proudly adorning the police uniform while serving overseas.

Paula Southgate was apologetic about not sharing her childhood photo, but was happy to show how she looked 18 years back when “I first embarked on local govt.”

Six years-old Angela O’Leary (L) & 8-years-old Lisa Lewis (photos: supplied)

Host Jamie Strange kept his promise of keeping the event ‘short & sharp’, and the interactive questions from him and from the floor subsequently kept the meeting lively.

As usual, each candidate pitched for two minutes their achievements, vision, and why community should vote for them to be the city’s next Mayor.

This was followed by a set of three questions put to each of the mayoral candidate, to be answered in 30 seconds.

A loud round of applause from the front row indicated the allotted time was up – which was taken by some as an acknowledgement of how good they spoke, all in good humour though.

In line with the ‘Grow Waikato’ theme, the main focus of the questions was on the economic growth happening here.

Your Vote counts

The questions asked were: ‘What are your plans to attract & support business’, ‘How will you balance residential density with green fields development (keeping in mind the shortage of 4000 houses in the city)’, and ‘What are the key drivers of economic growth & how will you promote these key drivers’?

Subsequently, candidates answered a few more questions put to them from the floor.

The measured, well rehearsed answers provided an insight into what the respective mayoral candidates stood for- whether it was their vision of Hamilton’s future, growth of city, maintaining the green touch with urban growth, tourism or views relating to the prestigious Peacock development.

With barely 19 days to go before the local body elections voting closes on 12 Oct, attendance at the mayoral debates is generally thinning out.

But for the candidates, there is no respite yet. ‘Grow Waikato’ event was not the first or last for the day.

Before participating here, they had already attended an event by Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa, and Creative Waikato’s event  was next.

After revealing their position on the arts there, they were scheduled to be at the Fairfield Enderley Resilience Network’s event, before they probably hit the bed for a similar routine next morning.

In spite of the daily grueling schedules of ‘meet the candidates’ events spread all over the city, the exhaustion does not show on their faces.

They continue to hop from one venue to the other, and like Angela O’Leary says, “It’s 23, 25 or more, I’ve lost count”.

NewsViews asked some of these mayoral aspirants present if they felt exhausted, and none of them admitted.

O’Leary said she is in fact enjoying meeting people daily and did a bit of gardening on Sunday at home.

Casson echoed a similar view. “I’ve always worked hard. In fact, over one day this weekend, I would’ve trekked nearly 40kms door knocking around the city.”

Space for Advertisement

Mayor King felt no different, “I’m used to doing 90 hours work a week,” he commented.

Over the period, hopefully events like ‘Grow Waikato’ would have surely helped voters by now to make up their mind.

With ballot papers already arriving daily in the letter boxes across the city, it’s time to cast votes and seal the future of these mayoral and councillor candidates.