Timaru's would-be mayors trade insults
There is no love lost between candidates to lead the Timaru district, Matthew Littlewood reports.
The hoardings are up for the Timaru mayoral race and already candidate Damon Odey is claiming he will be "your fulltime" mayor.
But his rival, Steve Earnshaw, says Mr Odey's record does not stand up.
Campaign hoardings were put up over the weekend, with Mr Earnshaw and Mr Odey each likely to have more than 20 spread throughout the district.
Some of Mr Odey's billboards brand him as the "fulltime mayor". Mr Odey said this was in response to Mr Earnshaw's earlier indications that he would keep practising as a surgeon.
"Only one of us is committed to this job fulltime," Mr Odey said.
Mr Earnshaw was "surprised" by Mr Odey's approach.
"I wonder whether his record stands up, if you look at the times he's handed in his apologies for council and committee meetings," Mr Earnshaw said.
"Yes, I will still work as a surgeon. However, I've closed my private practice, and I will commit to my duties of mayor 100 per cent. I have the highest attendance rate of all councillors."
Mr Earnshaw said as well as his excellent attendance record, he had also tried to make the council more accessible for people, including holding regular "councillor cafes", clinics and using social media.
"Both of the candidates talk about improving communication, but only one of them has really put it into action," Mr Earnshaw said.
Mr Odey said Mr Earnshaw appeared to be running a negative campaign.
"Steve is the one who collects all these numbers, but I'm not sure what he's on about here," Mr Odey said.
"As far as I can remember, I've missed only one council meeting, and I've chaired all of the community development committee meetings since my appointment. Steve seems to be using these negative lines against me."
Mr Odey said his campaign would focus on the community, and ensuring the district's economy continues its positive growth.
Mr Earnshaw said his campaign was about accountability, and better services.
Both candidates are also standing for the council.
They both agreed that upgrading the ageing infrastructure, and the challenge of the new earthquake-prone building rules would preoccupy much of the council's time over the next three years.
Mr Earnshaw and Mr Odey were elected to the council in 2010. Mr Earnshaw was one of four councillors elected on the "Team Timaru" ticket - the others were Hamish Fraser, Jo Taylor and Tracey Tierney.
Crs Fraser and Taylor are not standing for re-election. Cr Tierney is standing for re-election and Mr Earnshaw has said she would be his deputy mayor if he is elected.
"However, I will share the roles around the council equally, we will all work as a team," Mr Earnshaw said.
He and Mr Odey will face off at several "meet the candidates" events this month.
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