Hundreds turnout for Mayoral debate
By Gurbir Singh:
Hamilton City Council’s Mayoral Debate yesterday at the Claudelands Event Centre challenged candidates on the city’s issues, while also giving them a glimpse into the hopefuls’ personalities.
The Mayoral Debate, featuring all eight candidates, was hosted by Newshub journalist & anchor, Mike McRoberts.
An estimated 800 people made the effort to attend the debate and to be informed about who to vote for in the upcoming local elections, with hundreds more who watched the livestream in the comfort of their homes.
As on date, the live stream of the event had 4.4k views already, and attracted 108 comments on the council’s social media page.
This event was part of the council’s efforts to increase Hamilton’s voter turnout and engagement with local democracy, and judging by the response, it was a huge success.
Mayoral candidates were quizzed by Mike McRoberts about their views on Hamilton’s identity, the city’s growth, the Council’s financial strategy, and transport priorities.
The Mayoral Debate was preceded by a Candidate Café where the public could chat one on one with Hamilton City Council candidates as well as those vying to represent Hamilton on the Waikato Regional Council.
Before grappling the serious issues, on a lighter note the audience got to know about candidates’ go-to dance moves, favourite restaurants and where to get the best coffee in Hamilton.
Mike McRoberts, who moderated the debate, was delighted to see so much response to the mayoral debate in the city to which he has a long association. His father also lives here, and as a mark of respect to the city, he mentioned having given a donation to Hospice Waikato yesterday.
McRoberts commended the efforts of the council to have initiated and invited all the eight candidates to participate in the mayoral debate as compared to Christchurch where all candidates were screened, and only top three were given this opportunity.
The Council’s Communication and Engagement Manager, Natalie Palmer, said the debate had something for everyone.
“We wanted to help people decide who they vote for, but also have a bit of fun with the candidates,” she said.
“Candidates appeal to voters for many reasons. Policies and a vision for Hamilton are important to some, while others want to ensure their city leaders are approachable and be able to connect with them on a personal level. (voters) will definitely have a better idea of their preferred candidates.”
Richard Briggs, the Council’s Chief Executive, was out of town on Council business but said the debate’s success justified the investment in staging the event.
Referring to the money spent to stage the event, Briggs said “You can’t put a price tag on a strong democracy, but we also have to ensure we are providing value for money for our ratepayers and I firmly believe we got the balance right with this event.”
The two elections-focused events were combined with one of the Council’s Your Neighbourhood information expos, where staff from various business units go into the community to talk about projects happening across the city.