This afternoon, nine mayoral candidates spoke to students and members of the public at the University of Canterbury. Max Towle live-blogged the event.
The state of democracy is strong in Christchurch, we just need the government to realise this. Even when we disagree, we can talk in similar languages and agree to disagree on these points._Political Science lecturer and host Lindsey Te Ata o Tu MacDonald
“I’ve got to know a lot of the candidates well. Victor, for example, has a wonderful sense of humour. A lot of these guys will end up on council. Blair’s got some great ideas.”
“It was great to come here and hear everyone’s views. A lot of the time, I tried to keep my answers short and to the point because you can often get a lot of waffling. Sometimes the answer is so simple.”
“I decided to run for mayor because I don’t think one person should just be allowed to walk in. That’s not good for democracy. I came here to talk to young people because that’s what’s important. You’re never going to know what people want unless you talk to them and get their feedback.”
“This is the first time I’ve been able to get my voice out there and talk about the important things, because I haven’t been given that chance before.”‘
“I own a software company in Christchurch, but I saw what was going on in the city and thought there were some things in the financial world that were seriously wrong.”
UCPOLS President Nathalie Blakely:
“We put on a lot of events like this to encourage political participation. We’re students and we matter. We want to be able to meet a lot of you face-to-face to see what you’re about. I hope you tell your friends and families what you learned today.”
Time’s almost up folks. Lindsey MacDonald is wrapping up the event.
“I’m incredibly impressed by the range of topics you can agree on. The state of democracy is strong in Christchurch, we just need the government to realise this. Even when we disagree, we can talk in similar languages and agree to disagree on these points.”
“I would like to thank all of you, and the audience for their participation and hope you can stick around so you can throw some personal questions at them afterwards.”
Brad Maxwell (Q1)
“Through all of this I’ve learnt that we’re all passionate about Christchurch. Yes, we have some views that are off-the-wall, but as long as we put them out there, that’s important.”
“I think unitary authority will come at some stage – you can almost guarantee it. Not that it’s our will, but that of the government.”
“We should be more inclusive of all people in our society — those who have special needs, in rest homes. We need to be open with the whole community.”
Blair Anderson (Q1)
“There’s no animosity between us on any issue. These people will remain our friends. But we really shouldn’t be pretending that there’s only two people running. I don’t like that some of these views haven’t been properly represented.”
“We are not allowing the right ideas to come through in terms of what will give us a sustainable city. Carbon neutral is something that is achievable.”
Lianne Dalziel (Q1)
“I’ve learned that all the candidates have so much to offer. I already knew Hugo’s passion, but he’s raised a key issue relating to people receiving the right information in terms of their land. I’m grateful he’s put his name forward to get the issue to the table.”
“If you’re going to build a city, why not build it green? But let’s not forget that some of the greenest cities are the ones already standing. Some buildings have been knocked down far too quickly.”
Rik Tindall (Q1)
“You develop an unexpected sense of sympathy for your fellow candidates for what we’ve been through… and most of us will lose.”
“The carbon-zero goal is crucial. We can achieve that, not just as a city, but across Canterbury as a region. It’s only democracy that will ever get us there.”
“Democracy is the key. I say more democracy, not less. Because of this, I think the unitary argument is wrong. Councillors need to work to a code of conduct.”
Hugo Kristinsson (Q1)
“For a successful conclusion, we need to look at things together. Everyone here has ideas and can contribute. This is not one man’s job.”
“There’s a great opportunity to be carbon-free. I believe that council should lead an initiative to encourage solar power to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Victor Cattermole (Q1)
Dalziel: “What have you learned Victor?”
Cattermole: “Never to do this again.”
“I think that with us rebuilding the CBD, we should be going way beyond our initial targets and taking the opportunity to be world-leading.”
“Let’s try and break the mould to address the issues in the community.”
Paul Lonsdale (Q1)
“I’ve learned through the other candidates that we all have different policies.”
“We’ve got to try and build greener and get commuter traffic off the road. We need to resolve a lot of the transportation issues. Cyclists need to feel confident they can get to where they need to go safely.”
Robin McCarthy (Q1)
“You’ll find that there’s quite a consensus for the sharing of similar ideas in the middle so many of the candidates will be selected for little reason.”
“I’m a supporter of a unitary authority, but not a super-council. We also need to be able to compare our council with what the council next door are doing.”
“I think council can change a lot things. We have the powers of persuasion.”
A few more questions from the audience:
1 Q: What have you learned from each other during the campaign?
2 Q; How can we make Christchurch a carbon-free city?
3 Q: Can Christchurch form a unitary authority?
4 Q: Are there issues that you won’t be able to touch because you will have limited powers?
Victor Cattermole (Q2)
“I think the timing of the LAP is terrible. The entertainment industry has had three tough years. I was for drinking licenses. If you want to go out drinking, you need one of these around your wrists.”
“Unfortunately, we’ve had so much management that too much decision is no decision. We need to empower our community boards more to make decisions.”
Hugo Kristinsson (Q2)
“I’m not in favour of the one-way door policies. But I am in favour of advertising warning people of the dangers like tobacco.”
“I believe that the entertainment areas should be monitored. We’ve got the technology, it’s not expensive. We should increase the policing of the area to let people they wont get away with anything illegal.”
Rik Tindall (Q2)
“We’re still getting to grips with what needs to be done in the city to get that local alcohol policy together. Council needs to show that there is a better way forward.”
Lianne Dalziel (Q4)
“When you’re talking about red tape – red tape goes in my opinion. The council should back the community to do things themselves.”
Brad Maxwell (Q1)
“We need more community watch. This reduces neighborhood crime.”
“I don’t believe closing all the bars at 1 o’clock is going to work – let’s tweak that.”
“We need to provide free parking in town if we’re going to create a functioning city centre.”
Blair Anderson (Q2)
“We need evidence-based policy. They’re standing behind the alcohol policies because they can’t do anything else. They’re bereft of ideas.”
Robin McCarthy (Q2)
“With the LAP, you’ve got to bear in mind that a lot of you will gain employment from the hospitality. So I don’t agree with the 1 o’clock shut-off time. We can’t be a world class city with that.”
“Councillors need to be put in a hotseat to answer questions. That way we cut out the red tape.”
Paul Lonsdale (Q2)
“My feeling is that the LAP wont change the drinking culture. The problem is pre-loading. If you tip people out at 1 0’clock, 1000 people are going to turn up at a suburban party.”
“I think 1-hour free parking is important, because we need people given full access to the central city. There should be more cycle parks.”
More questions from the audience:
1 Q: Street crime in Christchurch has gone up and that’s worrying for young people. How do you bring that number down?
2 Q: What’s your view on the LAP? Is it beneficial in attracting young people to the city?
3 Q: “What are your policies on parking in the city?
4 Q: It’s so hard to get stuff done in this city. Councillors seem quite powerless. What will you do to make things simpler?
Brad Maxwell (Q2)
“I voted Green, Red, Blue. I look at the policy, not the party. I think it’s a little bit naive, like Lianne, to step aside from the Labour Party and say you can’t be independent.”
“You have to move the goalposts of your own beliefs because you will never get your own way all the time.”
Blair Anderson (Q1)
“Things like the closing down of schools are important to me. Why close the only one that is on the urban transport framework? Is that dumb or stupid?”
Lianne Dalziel (Q1)
“It’s crazy that the Phillipstown decisions were made and how the decision was announced. There couldn’t have been a worse way of doing things.”
“Political allegiances can be very important if you know someone. It is useful to know what people stand for but I’ve resigned and I want to work with whoever Christchurch elect to sit around the table.”
Rik Tindall (Q3)
“There’s a misconception that the mayor’s ideas wont be adhered to. There can be a deciding vote at the end, but it’s up to the local communities to tell that councillors about the ideas they have.”
Hugo Kristinsson (Q3)
“Most of my policies have to do with sustainability and the future of the young people here and I believe that the other councillors share these concerns.”
Victor Cattermole (Q1)
“Let’s look at town planning. Maybe we should be encouraging people into certain areas to make schools sustainable.”
“I don’t have any political leaning because I don’t belong to any party.”
Robin McCarthy (Q1)
“I would invite you to come along to the council to discuss what we can do.”
Paul Lonsdale (Q2)
“I don’t have a political allegiance. I root for people and do the best I can for them. The more people you listen to the better idea you get.”
It’s time for questions from the audience:
1 Q: I have concerned about the education of our children. Why has Phillipstown school been made to close? What would you do if you were in power?
2 Q: Which is stronger, your political allegiance, or your allegiance to the city?
3 Q: Given the mayor is only one vote on the city council, what would you do if you were elected to a council that was unsupportive?”
“We must work with what we have. The council has community engagement and works with the community needs. The council can work with the other agencies to give you the best information possible and get the people back involved in the city.”
“I would ask EQC to accept responsibility. Land is a subject of great concern. Residents are not being given the right information. Most structures are already in place but what is missing is transparency.”
“We should show that the leadership has authority and is representing people’s rights. We’re just getting bullied at the moment and there is no respect. We should bully the bully back.”
“I want to rebuild our trust with the government. We should leverage off their talents to build a first rate service to the people of Christchurch.”
“I don’t see any future for EQC. Look at all the stumbling blocks. I think that that situation should be looked at and completely restructured.”
“We need to approach all the agencies in a co-operative way, but sooner or later someone has to take chance. If this council does not perform, I fear the government will keep its power.”
“I spent less than $20 on my campaign three years ago and I still got 900 votes. People didn’t sit back and not vote, they voted for me. So this year I spent nearly $28. Why put up billboards? I think that participatory democracy is absolutely essential.”
“The problem that we have is that there is no co-ordinated activity. The mayor has to take a leadership role in uniting the council and engage with the different agencies to ensure a proper communication stream with the local people.”
The third question:
Q: Whoever is elected Mayor will have to work closely with Government officials, EQC and CERA – Should you be elected, where do you see the role of each of these organisations?
“Let’s re-establish trust before we take over the responsibilities of CERA. This council has to get its act together to prove it can do that transitional job. Let’s give the community more engagement in the decision-making.”
“The two important things that we need to confront the council now is voter participation. If we don’t have a good number, we’re peeing into the wind.”
“The other thing is climate change. That’s a topic that far escapes the one minute that I’ve got but lets look at good concepts.”
“We have to build a relationship with the other bodies. Until we realise that CERA have the power in the city, that needs to be brought back to the city.”
“We’re too top-heavy in management. We need to thin out some of the dead wood and rebuild the council.”
“The council should take over CERA’s responsibilities now.”
“We need to create a culture of financial responsibility. We need to do more with less and keep things at an affordable level. Let’s embrace technology.”
“Our council has been disempowered and a lot of the answers you get today will be based on assumptions that things will go back to the way they are. That’s not going to happen.”
“The future of council is yet to be determined. It will be based on leadership.”
“The council hasn’t had any regard for sustainability or care. We have no way to protect our residents. This is the most important issue.”
“We also need an attraction that will unite the city.”
“Let’s get to work to get a youth forum that will have the decision-makers influenced by what you guys want. You can help us get the word out and make that happen. We’ll start at the top then work down and work with you.”
Time for the second question:
Q: Where do you see the 2 biggest challenges for the council over the next 3 years and how will you reform local government in our city?
“We need to take your direction to see what needs to happen. We need to build a city that you want.”
“Let’s attract international acts to the city to perform. If you want to support integrity, vote for me.”
“I would like to see free wireless internet across the CBD. Housing also needs immediate attention. The Avon River also needs immediate attention.”
“Much has already happened on campus. It needs to be an exciting place for all of us.”
“I think we’ve seen that the university can stand up and show up the rest of the city. We need to trust the university to be a leader in the city, allowing you guys to do what you do well. Students need to be persuaded to stay here.”
“Let’s work with communities to make them the best that they can be.”
“I’d like to see all young people engaged more than they currently are. We need to talk to young people to see what they’re thinking. I think a youth forum would be a great idea.”
“We need to consider higher density living areas so younger people have more affordable housing.”
“I don’t see that you will have any problem getting a job here or anywhere else in the world. We are just lacking people in the tourism industry. Get out there and help us.”
“We need to listen to you guys. I want to engage with young people. We need to find a mechanism that finds accommodation for you all. It starts with more affordable land and getting building costs down.”
“I want to challenge your thinking. We haven’t talked about the role of dogs in our city. They can be incredibly important.”
“The university has to have assurances from the government that it needs to continue as a proper university. We need a full range of subjects. I can’t believe that we’re not training as many people as we can to help with the rebuild.”
It’s time for Q&A.
Q: What roles do you see the university and its students playing in our city’s future? With particular attention to the key problems that students are facing around jobs, housing and youth spaces.
“The council has become a one-way street.”
“The government have taken the blueprint behind closed doors and rewrote it. I want to capture that sense of excitement and community that we have.”
“I stood at the end of my driveway in Bexley and watched the students march up my street after the earthquake. I want to capture that again.”
“I’ve been chased through the door because this is a safe haven. Marginal numbers turned up here for a debate that won’t even make a difference.”
“I don’t expect to be made mayor. Who am I? You don’t know. I’m a survivor. I’ve pulled people out of burning fires that didn’t even make the front page of newspapers. Not once, but twice.”
“Thank you. I’m much more interesting. Go look me up on Facebook.”
“Why should a businessman like me, someone not from Christchurch, want to stand for mayor?”
“It comes out of passion for helping us recover from disaster. This next council needs strong leadership, not one that is based on strong political leaning. We need a council that will communicate with government and the city to determine what the city needs.”
“You hear need an open and transparent council. To get to that point you need honesty, integrity and trust and we have not had that for the last three years.”
“Initially, there was going to be two candidates, but I thought the debate needed to be opened up and I have something to offer Christchurch too.”
“I’ve been in business for a long time and I’ve set up transport companies both here and overseas. Having been in business you end up dealing with councils and government departments and you learn the procedures that are involved in getting thing accomplished.”
“I believe I have something to offer, and that’s why I put my name forward.”
“A leader is someone who is bold, engaged and creative. Someone who can lead their community through the dark times and the better times.”
“It’s not just about the project and getting something like the re:START mall up-and-running, it’s about people. People are what create the environment we live in. We need to create the spaces to allow creative people to do that.”
“I want to create that sense of place for the community of Christchurch. That’s the sort of leadership I want to bring – the type of city we can be proud of.”
“With so many young people, I’ve been thinking about what council can provide for youngsters. Why is there such a gap between our city and our young people in education.”
“I believe I can lead a council that can be more involved with the communities and young people. We need to create a city that young people will love and will want to live in.
“We need to create incentive for young people to stay. We need innovation.”
“A long-term approach needs to be taken to the key issues. We need to ensure sustainability.”
“The facts are that the council are using outdated and conservative estimates. This does not help the Christchurch situation.”
“We need to take a responsible approach to make the most of the opportunity we have. Democracies do not ignore communities.”
“Christchurch demands accountability and responsibility.”
“My goal is world peace. Christchurch is a peace city. Right now we have an election opportunity to rebuild this city like it has never been seen.”
“I want to see a new housing industry in this city built by you, for you. Where you can afford to rent and buy. We need to start building sustainable villages right now. It’s just about how you do it.”
“We have to vote for a green, sustainable candidate and that is myself.”
We’re underway at Bentleys for this mayoral debate. Sammy Harris is the only candidate who is a no-show.
Political Science lecturer Lindsey MacDonald is hosting the event.
“This is to be a safe haven where you can look only ridiculous because of your opinions. When nastiness emerges, I am the absolute ruler and I have security guards to back me up.”
The candidates are about to introduce themselves.
We’re about to kick things off at Bentleys.
But Blair Anderson believes it may be too late to swing potential voters.
“You guys should be setting the standard. The university debate should have happened weeks ago. But it’s too little too late. Half the people who wanted to vote have already done so.”
We’ve overshot the planned starting time. The room is barely half-full as people still trickle in. Only around 30 audience members so far.
Lianne Dalziel has expressed disappointment that young people feel disconnected with these elections.
“I remember we filled the ballroom for a similar event in my time. It’s so important to get youth connecting with the council and with the key issues.”
Hugo Kristinsson, Victor Cattermole and Brad Maxwell have arrived.
Maxwell is confident as the starting time looms.
“This is really the last event of the campaign and we’re all well-versed on the key issues.”
He was disappointed to have been left out of The Press‘ debate last Monday.
“I was very upset being left out after last time. We’ve already raised concerns with that. We feel that the lack of transparency in democracy was alarming. The polling will have been a lot closer if everyone had been given the same exposure.”
The first few candidates have arrived as UCPOLS setup for the debate.
October 3, UC Events Centre (Bentleys), 1pm – 3pm