Campaign Launch A Family-friendly Affair
Stefan Speller launched his campaign for the by-election this weekend, with proactive community engagement at the heart.
Held in the Evelyn Rawlins Room at The Square Edge, notable for being the old Council Chambers, it was mentioned in Speller's speech that the venue was especially selected for it's ease of access for seniors and those in wheelchairs. It was a family-friendly event, with a dedicated kids corner, abundantly supplied with lego and crayons. The public event was attended by all ages, with the youngest being seven months old.
In attendance was Councillor Vaughan Dennison and Queen Elizabeth College Board Deputy Chair, Marama Plumridge. The event was opened with her introducing Stefan, his background, credentials, and love for the city and the community. She suprised and honoured him with a waiata at the end of his speech.
Speller talked of his slogan, "Arohanui Papaioea, Whakanui Papaioea - Love Palmy, Celebrate Palmy" and the genuine love for and desire to celebrate and expand our city. As someone under 30, Speller emphasised that, "I understand the value of bringing the youth perspective into the council chambers; however, youth in itself is not a qualification. I also bring significant life, community, and governance experience".
In an effort to make the event accessible, Speller talked of his multiple attempts to secure a sign language interpreter; however, with the lowest quote coming in at $850, this was prohibitive on a grassroots campaign budget. Speller said, "this is a prime example of a way that people in our community are not being served, and council has an opportunity to look at subsidising translation services and providing them for all council events, especially community events".
A major issue covered in his speech, and in discussions after, was the lack of consultation between councillors and residents. To address this, Speller has committed to holding regular meetings in different parts of the community, named "Coffee and Kōrero". He's committed to these meetings regardless of the by-election outcome, to enable better flow of information and issues.
The formalities concluded with everyone grabbing a bite to eat and strangers becoming friends.