Gatecrashers at Grey Power party
Snubbed candidates turn up at election meetingTRACY NEAL
Nelson candidates balloted out of a Grey Power pre-election meeting last night turned up to protest, but it fizzled when the seniors' lobby group "capitulated" and let them in, candidate Kent Robertson said.
Candidate and Grey Power member Ian Barker, who was among those not selected to speak, threatened his chances further when he arrived at the Nelson Suburban Club wearing a mask of Edvard Munch's painting The Scream. He was told to take it off or he would not be let in.
Mr Barker said he was a Grey Power member and could therefore attend the meeting, but took the mask off as asked.
Several city council candidates excluded by ballot from the meeting yesterday called the situation a "disgrace, upsetting and laughable".
Mr Barker, who is also a former Nelson Grey Power executive committee member, described the situation yesterday as undemocratic and "absolutely disgraceful".
Grey Power president Neville Male said because of the large number of candidates it had limited them by ballot, and that because it was a private meeting, it was entitled to run it however it wanted. Those who missed out would be invited to respond in writing within 24 hours of the meeting to the questions asked.
There are 38 candidates standing for election to the council, including the four mayoral candidates. Mr Male said 27 had indicated they wanted to be involved but there was time only to cater for 18.
An email was sent to 13 candidates telling them they were not successful.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said yesterday afternoon he had decided on principle not to attend the meeting because of the selection process, but later changed his mind and turned up.
He said that although he appreciated that Grey Power had selected candidates due to time constraints, "as mayor of Nelson, and a candidate myself, I do not feel that this selection and exclusion of other candidates is objective, democratic or helpful to the election process.
"As such I would prefer not to speak at tonight's meeting."
Mr Miccio said outside the Suburban Club last night he had spoken with Mr Male who had persuaded him to turn up.
Mr Male said that despite public criticism by a "handful of disaffected Nelson City Council candidates who obviously gave no consideration to the practicalities of hosting an evening meeting for Nelson Grey Power's elderly members" the forum was "extremely well received and appreciated by all those attending".
He said today numbers attending hovered between the 25 others counted to the 50 he was told had arrived. "The three balloted-out candidates arrived and just bowled on in. I didn't ask them to leave as that would have not been the way to set the tone for the evening and they stayed on throughout," Mr Male said. "I don't see that as a capitulation."
Candidate and Grey Power member Eric Davy, who was drawn in the ballot, also disagreed with the format of the meeting because "all candidates should have been given equal opportunity to speak".
- © Fairfax NZ News