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Thames Candidate Meeting

Last evening’s candidate meeting in Thames was uneventful, and in most respects totally predictable. T3 deserve compliments for their organisation though I still fail to understand why it was considered necessary to bring in a high-flying Auckland lawyer as facilitator. (chair) – all a bit ‘over the top,’ He had little to do in any respect.

Mark Skelding opened proceedings with a grand, and rather long speech in te reo, that demonstrated his skills in that area, but it was longer than allowed any candidate (3 minutes!). He covered all the usual acknowledgments, but what he failed to do was draw attention to the forthcoming and ground-shifting challenge facing both councils in regard to the Hauraki Settlement. For years, it has been the ‘elephant in the room’ that by my observation, recent administrations have chosen to ignore until the actual changes catch up with them.  

The main impression that I was left with was that candidates almost universally are so tied up in conveying their own ambitions for the councils they aspire to join, that they fail to explain precisely how they plan to work alongside other councillors in achieving their aims. There appears almost no understanding of the cut and thrust that leads to decision-making, good or bad.

Further, it is all very well to expand on a grand vision for bike-ways, and aquatic centres, but it is quite another to explain how you plan to raise the funding necessary to cover these desirable grand designs.’ Not one single candidate that I heard referred to rates, or alternative sources of funding, other than Mr Kedzlie’s rather hare-brained scheme of raising bonds a la Auckland City for great Regional Council projects.

Those seeking re-election surely made full use of their ‘inside knowledge’ of how things operate within the walls of council, and spoke confidently of the ‘progress’ that has been made during their term of office - all excepting Sally Christie that is, who was a ‘nervous nelly,’ and failed her set lines on several occasions.She did not show any remorse for her role on the DHB.

Rex Simpson came over as the pundit on all things local – something he has not demonstrated in Council . Of the ‘newbies, ’eager-beaver’ Bobyn Sinclair came across as intelligent and well-grounded, if a little enamoured with regard to expensive new bike-ways., a commitment to which many other towns are beginning to regret.

Martin Rodley spoke well, and had done some ‘homework’, but again, sent a shiver when he advocated for a ‘coastal bike-way' presumably to Te Puru – immediately supported by Murray Wakelin - think cost of 5 January 2018 inundation repairs, and double it!. He otherwise came across as a ‘light-weight,’ along with Alison Chopin, who rather pushes her ability “to read a balance-sheet.”

Strat Peters, who is similarly endowed was absent – this was supposed to have been explained, but wasn’t. It is unlikely to affect his ‘base’ vote.

On the Regional side, Denis Tegg continued his dire predictions which appeared to have strong, and deserved resonance in the room,  Liam Kedlie spoke confidently, with rather too much emphasis on his ‘fresh’ approach – what that will achieve was not clear, though he certainly means to tune-up our transport options.

The all-important regional environmental issues  were only dealt with by Dal Minogue, and he drew attention to the improvement in the Regional Council finances over the last three years. Clyde Graf failed to front, and that was probably just as well. All in all, probably a win for ‘local boy’ Denis, given the substantial local ‘green’ element present.

Come supper-time, my time was up, with a hacking cough, and symptoms of imminent departure from this mortal coil, I had to leave before what would surely have been fascinating debate between the Community Board, and the Mayoral  candidates.  I was sorry to have missed Len Salt’s presentation as I understand that he has been by far the most impressive at the other candidate meetings.

Anyone is welcome to contribute to this through ‘comments,’ but on this occasion I ask that you append your name – no pseudonyms please!




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