Candidates mount the soapbox

Queenstown Lakes District Council hopefuls got the chance to wheel out their strong points in front of a sizeable crowd of grassroots voters in a "meet the candidates" evening on Thursday.

High on the list of hot topics were the high growth statistics tagged for Queenstown, how workers would be adequately housed during that growth period, Queenstown's lack of decent healthcare and the fiscal responsibilities of a council with a small ratepayer base and huge visitor numbers.

Encumbent councillor Mel Gazzard said the district's population had grown from 17,000 in the 2001 census to 29,000 in the 2011 census, and how future growth was kept up with was key for the future council to consider.

A newcomer seeking election, Warwick Stalker said housing for workers currently needed looking at, but needed to be well thought out and prepared for if future growth statistics were properly considered.

Another newcomer, John Glover said the standard of healthcare available to district residents was below the national par, and elderly people moving to Invercargill or Dunedin to be closer to hospitals was not on.

Also throwing his hat in the ring for a council seat for the first time, Angus Welsh said many mistakes had been made in the past when it came to council spending, and the newly elected council would have to ensure those mistakes were not repeated.

The mayoral race for the Queenstown district is limited to two players this election.

Encumbent single-term mayor Vanessa van Uden faces competition from Glenorchy man Al Angus.

Mr Angus described himself as "nothing special," and a "garden variety lover of the Wakatipu region."

Ms van Uden kept her sales pitch gentle, but left no doubt that the demands of the high-profile job demanded the skills of a sharp politician who could "keep Queenstown front and centre in Wellington".

The Southland Times