Council elections – Who cares?

Candidates were given an opportunity to put their case on Sunday. Photo – Michael Jeans.

Just a handful turned out to hear how candidates would influence a multimillion-dollar organisation.

A Meet the Candidates event was organised by Cambridge Grey Power at the St Andrews Church Hall on Sunday – but as Michael Jeans’ picture showed, from one angle it looked more Little Theatre than big business.

There were 13 candidates for the current local body elections and about three dozen in the audience.

Waipa District Council ratepayers are being asked to vote for a raft of candidates at community board, district and regional council level and the voting process, which started last week, runs to October 12.

Local Government New Zealand Chief Executive Malcolm Alexander says local government “shapes the place that you live, the footpaths you walk on, the roads you drive, the water in your shower, and the parks, libraries and swimming pool where you take the kids”.

That was not lost on the three dozen at Sunday’s meeting.

Mobility around Cambridge was the topic of the day.

Council elections candidate Mike Pettit addresses the crowd. Photo – Michael Jeans.

“What I took away from it was they basically want to see Cambridge keep going ahead with what it’s already doing, just keep it going, not let it slip, and build on that,” said Val Massey, President of Cambridge Grey Power.

Some of the candidates addressed the need for easier and safer mobility around Cambridge, particularly for the elderly, with Mike Pettit suggesting an affordable transport service for older peope getting around town. Roger Gordon wanted to introduce more pedestrian crossings – particularly where retirement villages and resthomes reside on opposite sides of the street, like at Selwyn St Andrews on Bryce St and Resthaven on Vogel St.

Members of the crowd highlighted where crossings were needed too, like along the main road through Carter’s Flat as Michael Cole suggested. Others brought up the old and “dangerous” footpaths around Cambridge, as well as the need to improve Lake Te Ko Utu’s water quality.

With the growing population congesting the town centre, another suggestion was to introduce a park and ride service in the nearby suburbs.

Waikato Regional Council’s Waipa area candidates Stuart Kneebone and Andrew McPherson saw the meeting advertised and  asked to join in. They spoke on the issues of climate change, water protection and erosion in coastal areas of the Waikato.

“I think the main thing that people were interested in were the questions that came from the floor,” said Val. “It was probably mostly older folk at the meeting. I was expecting more people this year, but then again you can’t make people come along. Next time we might try having it during the evening rather than on the weekend. But I thought it was a good meeting.”

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