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Mr Kaushal seeks youth vote

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2013
Shail Kaushal
YOUNG BLOOD: Shail Kaushal is possibly the youngest candidate in the upcoming local body elections.

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Teen local board candidate Shail Kaushal is hoping to infect other youth with his passion for politics.

The 19-year-old is vying for one of six spots on the the Puketapapa Local Board in the upcoming elections and he wants his candidacy to inspire other young people to get involved with the process.

"I'm the youngest candidate in this election, perhaps the youngest candidate in the country right now for these local body elections," the Mt Roskill resident says.

"It's very important that young people have a decent say. In 30 years' time our generation will be it. So we have to lay the foundations now for a decent society for the future."

Mr Kaushal is concerned about the low rates of youth voting following the turn out for the 2010 elections.

"If you look at Auckland central, I believe it is below 50 per cent for 18-24 year olds. If you look at Roskill we are in the mid-60 per cent range, when we should be in the high 90s."

The Indian-born teenager was drawn to local politics after watching his father work the nightshift to build up his career in hospitality after they arrived in New Zealand a decade ago with very little money.

"It taught me during that time about community and family values. You have to stick together when times are tough. And that if you work hard enough you can actually achieve just about anything," he says.

"I believe with hard work and equal opportunities you can actually make a difference."

Mr Kaushal's running mates are the team from Roskill Community Voice: Harry Doig, Julie Fairey, Garth Houltham, Michael Wood and David Holm.

The group is campaigning on several issues that are close to Mr Kaushal's heart, including bringing a rail system to Mt Roskill.

"Like a majority of our people, I am a public transport user, and I think it is terrible that we only have buses as an option. It would be really great if we can get trains here. The majority of Auckland does have trains access, it is the Roskill community that is being neglected.

"For the last 60 years there have been plans to give Roskill rail access but there has been no action been taken, so we have decided enough is enough."

The Auckland University student is also keen to see the Mt Roskill town centre receive an upgrade and he wants the unsightly pylons that degrade the area's landscape put underground.

He says it is by voting that the Mt Roskill community can ensure they implement a local board that will fight for resources and attention for the future.

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"We need a local board that stands up for every Roskill member, so that's why I'm asking all the youth to go out there and vote."

Voting for the local body elections runs from September 20 until October 12.

It is a legal requirement to register to vote. Eligible voters need to be enrolled by August 23. Find out how to enrol at elections.org.nz.

- Central Leader

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