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Friday, 26 April 2019 01:35 am

New candidate puts civil defence on eastern ward agenda

EasternMAIN

SPEAK UP: Candidates prepare to address the audience at Monday's meeting

TAIMA Fagaloa gets Allan Jenkins’ vote for raising emergency management in Monday’s eastern ward candidates meeting in Miramar.

In an otherwise tame meeting, Ms Fagaloa challenged Wellington’s readiness for a major disaster.

The local government elections come 12 months after civil defence employees and volunteers walked away because of Wellington City Council’s restructuring.

Council have described the shake-up as a “root-and-branch revamp of how the city is preparing itself for an emergency”.

The Christchurch quake, however, has reignited the issue.

First-time candidate Ms Fagaloa was the only one to raise the issue in her three-minute address, labelling emergency management a key issue for her campaign.

“I applaud the council for strengthening buildings but what about the people?”

Fagaloa said more should be done to improve city operations to ensure the city kept running in the event of a quake or tsunami.

During question time Mr Jenkins said Ms Fagaloa would get his vote for raising the issue and he challenged other candidates and city operations.

Current council member Ray Ahipene-Mercer agreed more could be done but said the council had done a lot of work on emergency management.

He pointed out that Mayor Kerry Prendergast was currently visiting Christchurch to see how its council is dealing with the recent quake.

With 11 candidates vying for only three spots representing the eastern ward on the council, the competition will be tough but this week’s meeting was tame.

About 50 mainly older voters turned up at Miramar Baptist Church despite the wind and rain.

Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Taima Fagaloa, Leonie Gill, Rob Goulden, Swampy Marsh, Mike Mellor, Amanda Nicolle, Rosemary Russell and Tony Travers all showed up and there were apologies from Mike Fiechter and Allan Probert.

Key issues for most candidates were transport, the environment, council spending and helping local businesses while some made note of water privatisation.

Each candidate was given three minutes to speak before the audience was invited to ask questions of the candidates, who were allowed one minute to answer.

One voter asked who the candidates would be voting for as mayor.

While most candidates said they weren’t prepared to say or had yet to make a decision, Ray Ahipene-Mercer backed Kerry Prendergast and Mike Mellor supported Celia Wade-Brown.

Questions then ranged over topics such as emergency management, city operations, rates, bus price increases and rubbish bags.

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