New kid is an early bird

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

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.”

Photo: AMELIA JA­COB­SEN

Po­lit­i­cal view: Rob Thomas will be stand­ing for the new Auck­land Coun­cil and has made an early start on his cam­paign.

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