Candidates offer positions, laughs

Clutha’s first meet›the› candidates event, at the South Otago Town & Country Club in Balclutha last Thursday, was leavened by moments of humour.

Eight Clutha District Council Balclutha ward, three Otago Regional Council Molyneux ward and four mayoral candidates set out their stalls before an attentive audience of about 120 during the event, hosted by Balclutha Rotary.

Three first›time mayoral candidates — Bruce Graham, Chris McDonald and Gail Oats — are challenging four›term incumbent Bryan Cadogan (62) for the top seat this October.

During his allotted three› minute introduction, current Clutha councillor Mr Graham

(66) said he was standing because ratepayers had lost trust in the council.

During a speech peppered with jokes, Mr Graham said he could promise those attending better footpaths, no potholes and lower rates.

‘‘But I won’t,’’ he concluded, to laughter.

Challenger Gail Oats (62), a professional gardener, also drew smiles from the audience.

During a speech where she questioned the council’s support for controversial Three Waters legislation, and the council’s record on ‘‘budget blow›outs’’, Ms Oats also said she should not be mistaken for murderer Gay Oakes. ‘‘Nor am I a greenie,’’ she added.

The youngest mayoral hopeful, Chris McDonald (40), said it was time to listen to the Clutha community’s needs.

‘‘It’s time for a fresh face, fresh thinking and, above all, fresh ears,’’ he said.

In a bullish speech, incumbent mayor Bryan Cadogan called on voters to support him for a fifth term based on his record.

‘‘I’ll always follow the will of the majority, and make the hard decisions for the benefit of the district I hold dear,’’ he said.