Ashburton’s two mayoral candidates faced off for the first time without a shot being fired.
Neil Brown and Jeff Swindley both attended Grey Power Ashburton’s meet the candidates event on Monday and while it was the first time the two candidates shared the stage there was no debate or exchange – just two candidates with different approaches.
Incumbent mayor Brown used the platform to outline how he has navigated a tumultuous first term, while Swindley’s first public appearance was an introduction that fell short on policy.
Swindley used his time to shed light on his background and reasons for standing, but ran out of time to touch on any policy.
He said his decision to run for mayor was based on his opposition to the Government’s “unlawful” traffic light system.
He said he has been a Christian for over 35 years “so my way of life has always been based on the Bible”.
“When I see an injustice and things like that, I actually make a stand.”
He said he was “ridiculed by the community” for his open stance on the traffic light system.
“So I started my society [the Bald Barber Private Society to circumvent the traffic light rules] and I got ridiculed for that, but all the time it’s about the community and where I stand in my walk as a Christian, as a businessman, as a father, as a husband.
“Integrity is what I stand on.”
Just as Swindley started to ramp up into some policy, talking about the “vast amount of legal acts that are coming down”, his time was up.
When his opponent had his turn, Brown rattled off his successes in what has been a troublesome first term as mayor dealing with the Covid pandemic, historic floods and Three Waters reform.
He also touched on some highlights, but said he hasn’t achieved anything on his own, leading the council as a team “to achieve prosperity for the district”.
Brown outlined the challenges that lay ahead for the council in the next term as completing the library and civic centre, Te Pātaka a kā Tuhituhi and Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka, contesting Three Waters Reform, lobbying the Government to fund the second urban bridge, and to do better with the roading network.
“I’ve proved capable, reliable and ready for challenges – whatever they are,” Brown said.
“Let’s keep going.”
There is another meet-the-candidates evening in Rakaia tonight featuring the Eastern Ward candidates, and Brown will also attend, but Swindley has declined as he is holding his own event.
- By Jonathan Leask