The six people who want to run Wellington have fired their opening shots in the first mayoral candidates' forum of the election campaign.
Mayor Kerry Prendergast is seeking her fourth term. She told last night's forum in the Majestic Centre that a major challenge was to ensure Wellington got its fair share of resources in the face of the new Auckland super-city.
"The next mayor will need to be able to leverage opportunities for Wellington. I have these very strong relationships at the very top echelons of Government."
A key plank in her campaign is for super-fast broadband across Wellington, a message endorsed by all the candidates.
Celia Wade-Brown has been a city councillor since 1994 but this year is contesting only the mayoralty. She said green policies and innovative business policies were not mutually exclusive, pointing to her vision of a light rail system.
"The tracks from the railway station to the airport don't just provide transport in the CBD . . . With the right kind of vehicles the modern tram can actually co-exist on the lines to Johnsonville, the Hutt and Melling," she said.
Bryan Pepperell is seeking re- election in the southern ward and is standing for the mayoralty. He asked why the council had lowered business rates over the past eight years. "The benefit has not been passed on to little businesses, so why did we do it?"
Relaxing traffic wardens' stringent policing of parking infringements would help small businesses, he said.
Wellington businessman Jack Yan said he would take Wellington to the cutting edge of technology and create creative clusters to attract talented people to the city. He would also focus on growing tourism to complement its status as the events capital.
"I believe the knock-on effects of this would grow GDP in this city by 10 to 15 per cent in the next three to five years."
Al Mansell said he had spent time in prison and was standing on behalf of local drug users so they could have a better life. "You've got to look at who is going to keep that possibility alive."
Bernard O'Shaughnessy has been a vocal opponent of the Manners Mall bus lanes. "We have to improve our traffic management plans. I think the current council has had plenty of time to do that and it hasn't."
The forum was organised by the Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce.
Voting papers will arrive at registered electors' homes from September 18.
- The Dominion Post
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