Mayor rejects party politics
Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith is encouraging voters to keep party politics out of the city council.
Smith used part of his speaking time at last Tuesday’s councilhosted lunchtime event to meet the mayoral candidates to ask people to ‘‘vote wisely’’.
The mayor of 18 months faces just one challenger, a former pig farmer with convictions for assaulting children, Ross Barber, who is standing for ‘‘Team God’’.
Barber claimed to be God, to be emperor and land lord, and said he could print money. He accused Smith of being mad, and council staff and various institutions of being corrupt and disgusting.
Smith used most of his time to outline his achievements as mayor.
His catch cry was ‘‘a head for business, a heart for the community and passion for Palmerston North’’.
‘‘I have led a once-divided council into a cohesive team,’’ he said.
Smith turned attention to the councillor election, where 28 candidates are standing for 15 seats, with three sitting councillors retiring.
The Greens have put forward candidate Brent Barrett, while Labour has endorsed Zulfiqar Butt, David Chisholm, Sheryll Hoera and Lorna Johnson.
Smith was worried party politics would cause divisions, pointing to the experience of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington councils.
‘‘I’m not standing on any political party card and am very much centre in my values and views,’’ he said.
‘‘I do ask residents to vote wisely.’’
Smith said Palmerston North had no desire for central government ‘‘party-led meddling’’ in local government, and it had not been evident on the city council for more than 30 years.
‘‘I urge voters to look at candidates’ personal attributes, what they support, their track record, and whether they are independent or not, and then, at who would genuinely be putting our city first.’’
The party candidates have hit back, claiming to be transparent, not divisive.
Barrett said it was open and honest to let people know his values.
And Hoera said party support helped a diverse range of people who could not afford to campaign alone to contemplate standing for council.
Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith and challenger Ross Barber spoke to about 50 people.