Mayoral hopefuls set out city vision

00:57, Sep 27 2013

Nelson's mayoral candidates got the chance to flesh out a topic close to their heart at a forum attended by possibly their toughest audience yet.

The monthly meeting of Spirited Conversations at Yaza Cafe was the stage on which candidates forwarded their vision for the city, and a well-versed audience got to ask some curly questions.

The five-minute time slots allocated to candidates provided an opportunity for alternative thinking candidate Richard Osmaston to stretch his legs on the concept of a moneyless, resource-based economy.

Incumbent Aldo Miccio was able to reiterate what the council has achieved, and what it has in store, while mayoral hopefuls Rachel Reese and Brian McGurk showcased their knowledge of specialised subjects such as biodiversity and waste minimisation.

Mr Osmaston, who grew up in England, described Nelson as a special place for its levels of sophistication when it belonged to one of the world's most remote countries. Nelson's geographic isolation and openness to different ways of thinking meant it was ripe for seeding his vision of a resource-based economy where "we no longer need the money system and no longer have the need to destroy the planet".

He said the current false values system was turning people into monsters, where "the ruthless prospered and the gentle, empathetic, weak and helpless were trampled".


The only distraction to his rhetoric over the moneyless economy where "everything is free" was the tinkling of coins being placed in the meeting koha basket as it was passed around the audience.

Mr Osmaston's rousing speech about humanity not benefiting from increased consumption was met with increasing applause from an audience becoming familiar with his oratory on the subject.

Mr Miccio's vision for the city was pinned on the Nelson 2060 Framing our Future strategy signed off earlier this year, after two years in the making.

He described it as a "roadmap for the future". "It's a community-led vision and strategy and it will be up to the next council to implement the goals and guidelines," Mr Miccio said.

Several projects within the Heart of Nelson strategy started by the previous council and aimed at guiding city development have been put in place, but the remainder of the strategy is on hold and is to be completely refreshed, Mr Miccio said.

Ms Reese said a recurring theme during her campaigning was that people wanted fewer plans, less vision-speak and more action.

"I believe in sound local government and my vision is for a city that doesn't sweat the small stuff," Ms Reese said.

She wanted to lead a council that encouraged independent thinking, and her vision for the city was one that attracted people keen on living a good life.

Mr McGurk wanted a "city for everyone", and one that was incisive, tolerant, diverse and socially balanced.

"I want a place where people can reach their full potential. Too often council imposes solutions on the community."

Candidates were asked their views on a broad range of topics from green urban planning, biodiversity, environmental diversity and the relationship with the Tasman District Council, which Mr Osmaston likened to trying to pass a school exam. He answered that it was futile "looking for new people to find solutions to old problems".

The spectre of the southern link through Victory, which Ms Reese said "hung like a sword over Nelson", took a back seat to many other topics, which was a sign the community had perhaps adopted a mature approach to talking about it, forum convenor Philip Woollaston said.