Mayoral Debate informs and entertains voters
Hamilton City Council’s Mayoral Debate challenged candidates on the city’s issues, such as reputation, rates and representation, while also giving a glimpse into the leader hopefuls’ personalities.
More than 1000 people made the effort to be informed about who to vote for in the upcoming local elections, with at least 800 attending the debate at Claudelands Event Centre this evening and hundreds more watching the livestream.
It was standing room only at the event, which was a key part of the Council’s intensified efforts to increase Hamilton’s voter turnout and engagement with local democracy.
The Mayoral Debate, featuring all eight candidates, was hosted by Newshub journalist Mike McRoberts.
Candidates were quizzed about their views on Hamilton’s identity, the city’s growth, the Council’s financial strategy, and transport priorities.
Before grappling the serious issues, the audience got to know about candidates’ go-to dance moves, favourite restaurants and where to get the best coffee in Hamilton.
The Council’s Communication and Engagement Manager, Natalie Palmer, says the debate had something for everyone.
“We wanted to help people decide who they vote for, but also have a bit of fun with the candidates,” she says.
“Candidates appeal to voters for many reasons. Policies and a vision for Hamilton are important to some, while others want to ensure their city leaders are approachable and be able to connect with them on a personal level. Claudelands was buzzing and those who attended or watched on the livestream will definitely have a better idea of their preferred candidates.”
Richard Briggs, the Council’s Chief Executive, was out of town on Council business but watched the livestream of the debate. He says the debate’s success justified the investment in staging the event.
“Engaging with our community and encouraging residents to have a say on who will lead our city by exercising their right to vote is a key role of every council, and one that we take extremely seriously,” he says.
“You can’t put a price tag on a strong democracy, but we also have to ensure we are providing value for money for our ratepayers and I firmly believe we got the balance right with this event.”
The Mayoral Debate was preceded by a Candidate Café where the public could chat one on one with Hamilton City Council candidates as well as those vying to represent Hamilton on the Waikato Regional Council.
The two elections-focused events were combined with one of the Council’s Your Neighbourhood information expos, where staff from various business units go into the community to talk about projects happening across the city.