Holdom surprises at mayoral debate
A surprise contender emerged in the race to be the next mayor of the New Plymouth district.
On Thursday night the Taranaki Daily News hosted a live mayoral debate with the five people who are vying for the mayoral chains; Heather Dodunski, Richard Handley, Neil Holdom, Bill Simpson and Clive Tongaawhikau.
While Dodunski and Handley have widely been thought of as the main contenders, it was Holdom who stole the floor and was the clear crowd favourite on the night.
An exit poll showed that 53.19 per cent of the people who voted thought Holdom was the best speaker and had won their vote on the night.
The exit poll also showed Handley came in second, with 20.7 per cent of the vote, Tongaawhikau had 15.9 per cent of the vote, Dodunski walked away with 8.5 per cent, and Bill Simpson clocked in 1.5 per cent.
However, an unscientific, selfselecting poll on Stuff.co.nz showed that Richard Handley was the favourite contender for mayor, with about 46 per cent of the vote at 9.30am on Friday morning.
On this poll Holdom came in second with 24 per cent of the vote, Dodunski came in third with 21 per cent, Tongaawhikau bagged 6 per cent of the vote, and Simpson had 3 per cent.
However, online polls are potentially unreliable as a person can cast their vote multiple times, each time on a different electronic device.
The results are also unscientific because online polls can be answered by anyone, including people who live outside of the region and those below the voting age.
Holdom, a 44-year-old father-ofthree, would be a newcomer to the council, but his lack of official council speak was a breath of fresh air and won the crowd of more than 200 people over.
On the night, Holdom spoke about connecting the Coastal Walkway through to Oakura, investing in water management and infrastructure, and New Plymouth being the lifestyle capital of New Zealand.
Holdom, who is the former editor of the North Taranaki Midweek, told the crowd that if he was elected as the mayor he would give up his day job at Powerco.
Votes must be in by noon on Saturday, October 8.
Jim Tucker NPDC. I’ve a long background in observing, analysing and writing about local government. I’m wellprepared for the challenges of being a councillor. I returned back home because it’s a great place to live. Let me apply what I’ve learned in management, media and education to make it even better.
Kevin Nielsen TDHB. I’ve a proven record from 14 years as CEO of Hospice Taranaki; 9 years on the Hospice NZ Board and 3 years on TDHB as chair of the Hospital Advisory Committee. For experience, knowledge, enthusiasm and a passion to ensure quality health services are available to all, vote for me.
Josh Cleaver TDHB. I want to bring a fresh and positive approach to how we best make our Health Board the place where everyone wants to work. Achieving this goal we will create a vibrant place for healing and health promotion. This needs to be Taranakiwide and not just the big centres.
Richard Jordan NPDC I am a current councillor and work hard for our community. I want our district to prosper and progress. It is possible to achieve that while maintaining a practical approach to spending. I am committed to a high quality working and living environment and a vibrant, attractive district.
Charlotte Littlewood TRC. With an average age over 60, it’s time to add a fresh perspective and voice for the future to the Regional Council. I’m passionate about Taranaki and our environment, and have over 10 years experience in business and a Masters in Finance.
Jim Tucker TDHB. There are excellent candidates for the health board but we need people independent from the health industry. I’ve been writing about health for decades, and I’m a cancer survivor. I’m standing as a lay expert and a patient advocate.