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Monday, 22 April 2019 02:10 am

Almost half of ward candidates don’t bother showing to meeting

meetingMAIN1ONLY seven of the twelve ward candidates bothered to turn up to the final western ward candidates meeting in Ngaio.

Those who turned up were Andy Foster, Simon Woolf, Martin Wilson, Hayley Robinson, Phil Howison, Gill Holmes and Malcolm Aitken.

Improvements in facilities for the disabled and the engagement of youth were key issues for the ward and all the mayoral candidates who attended.

Mr Howison, the youngest candidate, said he was standing because he thinks the council needs to better represent youth and in particular young professionals.

“I’m sick and tired of my friends going elsewhere because they don’t see a future in Wellington.

“We need to make sure we keep graduates here by providing a broad range of jobs.”

Howison’s argument was backed up by Elise Howard, a 24 year old member of the audience who said she was disappointed by the lack of young people at the meeting.

“I want to know how councillors plan to engage youth because obviously they are not interested at the moment. I’m the only one under 40 at this,” Ms Howard said.

When Newswire followed up with Mrs Howard, she said she stressed her disappointment at the fact that the meeting was dominated by middle aged, white voters.

“You get a clear idea of who the voters are.”

Mayoral candidate Jack Yan responded to Ms Howards by stressing the importance of the use of social media to let young people know what is going on in the local body elections.

“I’m on Twitter and Facebook all the time, it’s the best way to connect with young people,” said Yan.

Disability and how council provides for anyone who doesn’t have easy access to public facilities was another point of discussion at the meeting.

Ms Robinson impressed the crowd when she used sign language to answer a deaf member of the audience.

She said her background as a teacher helped her to understand the range of disabilities and the appropriate responses.

The council could do a number of simple things to make access to local facilities easier, she said

“Simple things we can do like putting more ramps in, I’ve noticed at the library the doors open outwards which makes it impossible for someone in a wheelchair, these are things we need to be thinking about.”

Mayoral candidate Karunanidhi Muthu used the example of the constant mispronunciation of his name to show how minority groups are under-represented in Wellington.

He said he understands the needs of minority groups, including the disabled, better than most.

Muthu has a daughter with a disability and said, if elected, he would do his best to make sure the needs of the disabled are met in the public arena.

“That would be my number one priority.”

An interesting hypothetical situation was proposed to the mayoral candidates at the end of the meeting by a member of the public: “If you had ten percent extra in rates to do what you wanted with, what would you spend it on?”

Celia Wade- Brown said she would spend the extra money on extending the airport runway.

Rob Goulden said he would spend the money on “addressing council debt.”

The other candidates played the question diplomatically by saying that the council would never increase the rates by ten percent in the first place.


HELLO SIR: Mayoral candidate Jack Yan hands out his flier


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is is a Whitireia journalism student
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