New kid is an early bird
Mt Eden resident Rob Thomas is poised at the start line to become a councillor, beginning his campaign a year and half before local body elections.
He is standing to become an independent councillor on the new Auckland Council under the new governance structure.
“I am an unknown and will build momentum,” he says.
“Enthusiasm about local government is a rarity.”
The 25-year-old knows he will have to gain 50,000 to 60,000 votes in a competitive environment.
Mr Thomas says he is keen to see more transparency within council.
“We are far behind the eight ball. A supercity will engage more people to want to understand about local government. The current structure is confusing and not as accountable as it could be.”
He says moving to a centralised model will unite the decision-making process.
“It will mean effective decision-making but will there be effective representation? Communities could lose out.”
Oliver Woods, a young political figure involved with the Residents Action Movement party, says Mr Thomas has made a good decision by starting his campaign early.
“I believe that he has the personal skills and extensive experience with local government to successfully gain a seat.”
Mr Thomas is eager to demonstrate that lo- cal body politics can be exciting.
“Who wants to talk about stormwater and sewerage? I don’t think we do a good job of making it relevant.”
The upcoming Rugby World Cup is one of his campaign issues and he says infrastructure upgrades are needed and a clear focus to host the competition on time.
“It will allow busi- nesses to prosper across the region. We will be in the spotlight.”
In terms of the controversial Waterview connection, Mr Thomas feels a cut and cover option is a good one.
“It will be a longterm investment of 50 to 100 years.”
Mr Thomas was involved with the Auckland Youth Council and has worked for Welling- ton City Council and councils in the United Kingdom.
Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-liga says Mr Thomas is young, smart and personable.
“I think getting started early is beneficial and building a talented campaign team, an appropriate election strategy and fundraising are critical to one’s ultimate success.”
Political view: Rob Thomas will be standing for the new Auckland Council and has made an early start on his campaign.