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Front runners, King & O’Leary close behind in poll

Mayoral Candidates
(L to R) Paula Southgate, Andrew King, Angela O’Leary, James Casson & Mike West

By Gurbir Singh:

Hamilton voters have picked up five front runners in the the mayoral race poll with Paula Southgate emerging on the top as the favoured new mayor.

Southgate secured 20.4 per cent support in the Curia Market Research poll, commissioned by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Waikato Times for its ‘showpiece’ mayoral debate, scheduled for 8 October.

The other four front runners behind Southgate are: Andrew King, Angela O’Leary, James Casson and Mike West.

The present incumbent, Andrew King who won the previous mayoral election by 6 votes is trailing Southgate by 6 per cent at 14.1 per cent in this poll.

Paula Southgate
Paula Southgate- top pick for mayor (Photo courtesy: FB)

When NewsViews approached Paula Southgate this morning to know her reaction, she said: “I am thankful for the early support. I know how easy it is to lose by a few votes. I’m taking nothing for granted. I’ll be working hard all week. I urge people to contact me if they have questions and to vote”.

Optimistic Angela O’Leary was, however, wasn’t too worried. Reacting to these poll results, she says: “The only poll she will take notice of is the one that ends at 12 midday on Saturday 12th October when voting closes…At least one third – and probably close to 50 per cent – of the votes have still to be cast or received.”

“I’ve lost my trust in any political polling over recent years as they have been unable to give accurate predictions of election results,” O’Leary said in a media release later.

“ I am getting very positive messages in the community from lots of people,” said O’Leary. “So we’ll just have to see how well that positivity converts into votes on Saturday 12th,” she added.

Andrew King has been approached for comments and are still awaited.

With 83,564 voters yet to vote, the mayoral race is still on and all is perhaps not over yet.

As of yesterday, (4 October), only 19,150 people (8.64% of the total registered voters) had voted so far.

Poll results have a few surprises as well with Angela O’Leary sliding down to third place at 13.7 per cent, and the youngest candidate, Louise Hutt not in the top five list.

The gap, however, between the third front runner, O’Leary and the other two front runners is huge. The former police officer, James Casson polled 3.1 per cent and Mike West is almost equal at 3 per cent.

Originally, four candidates were to be invited to participate in the Chamber’s mayoral debate on October 8. However, as “the fourth and fifth polling candidates are very close”, therefore, the Chamber has now decided to “widen the debate to 5 candidates.”

Eight candidates are contesting the Hamilton mayoralty and others who will not be participating in the debate are: Louise Hutt, Lisa Lewis and John Gielen.

Candidates
Until the last vote is counted, it is any one’s game to be a winner (NewsViews)

According to the breakdown of poll results published by the Waikato Times, Southgate leads King by 10.6 per cent among female voters, but only 1 per cent among men.

In the West ward, the present incumbent, Andrew King is the most preferred with 18.6 per cent support, followed by Southgate on 17.7 per cent and O’Leary on 14.2 per cent.

Even though the results of the poll were officially released today, Lisa Lewis was the first to express her disappointment in her social media post yesterday.

“This is not the Elections NZ Poll… Inclusion is part of Diversity. This is disappointing,” she wrote.

Jack Gielen had earlier told NewsViews, “Some of us may hold our own mayoralty meeting” if uninvited to the mayoral debate.

This ‘strong’ phone poll, conducted on October 2 covered a sample size of 710 respondents (out of 7500 who were contacted) eligible Hamilton voters that included a spread of ages, and the participants were asked who they will be voting for as mayor.  The poll has a margin of error +/- 3.6 per cent.

The decision to commission a poll was taken as the Waikato Chamber of Commerce wanted the process of selection to be done ‘democratically’.

“We’re choosing who the top four (now five) candidates are based on what the public of Hamilton say”, Chris Simpson, Chief Executive had said earlier.

Reducing the participant candidates was to give “greater focus” to the debate, according to Simpson.

Auckland mayoral candidate and a former Labour MP, John Tamihere will moderate the debate that will have a business focus.

As Hamilton’s connection with Auckland is growing, the debate’s emphasis will also be on the city’s connection with Auckland.

Your Vote counts

There have been some murmurs, however, about the accuracy of such polls and the timing of the mayoral debate with only 4 days remaining for voting to close from the day it is scheduled.

But defending this, Simpson reportedly said: “The timing of the event means it will be held very much in the heat of the election when everybody is talking about it, rather than a bit early when people aren’t that focused.”

“Unlike the council debate at Claudelands, we’re open to heckling”, says Simpson.

The Chambers ‘Great Debate’ will be held at the Wintec Atrium and starts at 6.00pm,

The event is a free event and is open to the public, however the Chamber is asking for a koha/gold coin donation. All funds will be donated to Epilepsy New Zealand.

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