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Two new parties … three mayoral candidates

The election campaign has begun. In Wellington, not one but two new political parties say they’ll be naming candidates for the city council. And there’s an independent candidate challenging mayor Justin Lester.


In Lower Hutt, Ray Wallace is being challenged for the mayoralty by Councillor Campbell Barry. And in Kapiti, Gwynn Compton has launched an active campaign full of specifics about how he would run the coastal community more effectively than Mayor K Gurunathan.

The Wellington Party’s website gets personal in attacking the city council:

Wellington’s infrastructure deficit is growing, and a lack of leadership is seeing our city falling further behind many others in New Zealand. We’ve been hearing strong community frustration with the current Mayor, City Council and Regional Council in recent years. Their lack of vision for the future of Wellington, fiscal blowouts, lack of accountability and transparency, and pork barrel politics involving pet projects is unbelievable and it’s time they were shown the door.

And they list their policies, somewhat vaguely, as

🏢 Better Value for Rates, a Plan for Growth
🚉 Transport that Works for You
🏘 Housing for Wellington
👨‍👩‍👧 Strong and Safe Communities
🌱 Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Wellington

The Wellington Party says “we’ll be announcing some great local candidates … in the months ahead.” But getting in early, the DomPost reported that the candidates will include former councillor and former test cricketer John Morrison, PR consultant and NZ Racing Board chair Glenda Hughes and Bats Theatre front-of-house manager Troy Mihaka. The party is the brainchild of National Party member Mike Loftus who is quoted by the DomPost as saying they need to win just two city council seats to shift the balance to centre-right control.

The DomPost has also named names in a report about another new party, Wellington First, which is also preparing to name candidates and which has some strong views about how things should be.

the pro-car political party has been formed by former councillor Bryan Weyburne and businessman Digby Paape who are against Wellington’s investment and focus on getting people on pushbikes. “We are supposed to believe that the city needs to switch over to bicycles, a 150-year-old technology that cars have virtually eliminated.”

The party is curiously enthusiastic about roads.

“Wellington is a city for motorists. The more parks turned into cycle lanes, gardens, and street art installations the worse it will become.”

An independent candidate for the Lambton ward has started campaigning. Tamatha Paul describes herself as 21, from Tokoroa, Ngāti Awa & Waikato Tainui, graduate of Victoria University, and president of the Victoria University Students Association. She told NewsHub about her four focus areas. And she said:

“There’s no reflection of young people in the Council, there’s nobody who looks like us, there’s nobody who rents their house or knows what it’s like to catch public transport. From what I’ve seen in the last three years, no one’s really focussed on making commitments to saving the planet and issues that young people care about. I want to see that reflected and who better to do it than someone who’s already representing 22,000 young people.”

Wellington’s independent mayoral candidate Conor Hill is also in the younger category. He’s 36, and he says he’ll announce his policies over the next few weeks. On his website he states that he wants

better transport options, affordable housing and vibrant community facilities. The steps to make Wellington the best it can be will also contribute to fixing our local housing crisis and the global climate change crisis.

This may have encouraged mayor Justin Lester to start campaigning as well. On Saturday he told RNZ that if he gets another term in office, he will be pushing for a regional transport authority to take over public transport, parking, and roading.

Mr Lester said the region-wide authority would be governed by a combined committee of elected councillors, but local councils would still own the assets. He said that would let local councils have more of a say in transport projects.

On Saturday he also said his “first priority” was to strengthen the Central Library, a pledge that he repeated today but with the qualification that he was committed to saving the building unless this wasn’t possible.

In Lower Hutt, Campbell Barry launched his mayoral campaign on Sunday. He wants the council to be bolder and more ambitious. On his website he says

As mayor I’ll put our people, our families, and especially our kids at the heart of every decision I make

And on the Kapiti Coast, independent candidate Gwynn Compton began his mayoral campaign in April.

On his website there are already 20 media releases in which he describes his policies in persuasive detail. An impressive start to his campaign. He’s ahead of the competition, by far.