Report from NewsWire by Chris Williams
Library funding, fluoridation, speed limits and cycleways were among the topics which 140 Newtown locals questioned council candidates about tonight.
The event at St Anne’s parish hall was described by Patrick Morgan, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Newtown Residents Association, as a job interview for the candidates.
“I guess you could liken the format to Twitter – get up, make your point, and get off,” he said.
The meeting was attended by mayoral candidates Rob Goulden, incumbent Celia Wade-Brown, Jack Yan, John Morrison, Karunanidhi Muthu, and Nicola Young as well as southern ward candidates Paul Eagle, David Lee, Don McDonald, Ginette McDonald, Brent Pierson and Bryan Pepperell.
The other ward candidate Will Moore, who narrowly missed out on one of two southern ward seats in the last election, sent his apologies via a text message which mentioned ‘man flu’.
Each candidate was initially given two minutes to address the crowd and then later a minute to answer questions before the floor was opened up to questions from the audience.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said she made no apologies for objecting to the Basin Reserve fly-over, emphasising the importance of public transport and bus priority lanes.
John Morrison spoke of growth, jobs and the economy also saying, “I’m not a member of any party.”
The residents association had a list of six questions to be answered by the candidates however Mr Morgan decided that there was not enough time for the candidates to answer all of them, so instructed the candidates to answer any two.
Cr Morrison chose to speak about a proposed cycleway from Island Bay to the CBD.
“We need to be more creative. You can’t just put a cycleway down Adelaide Road and ignore business owners.”
Ms Wade-Brown said she was supportive of the cycle route from Island Bay to Russell Terrace but there was not a lot more room left to fit in cycle lanes. However, she said that cyclists were also shoppers.
Ms Wade-Brown also said she wanted fluoride to be continued to be added to the water because in NZ there is not enough of it.
Ginette McDonald was against fluoride. She said her late run for council may have come as a surprise to most people but during the last election complete strangers had approached her and said she should run for council.
Residents association member James Coyle, who is involved with the Newtown Festival, said it was good to see how the candidates performed when having “to think on their feet”.
Newswire is a publication of Wellington’s Whitireia Journalism School.