TOP Party Leader Geoff Simmons Will Stand For Rongotai In 2020 Election
Wellington, July 8th 2020 – The Opportunities Party (TOP) today announces a new tranche of candidates for the 2020 election with leader Geoff Simmons standing for Rongotai, south Wellington.
Simmons, longstanding Rongotai resident and former Treasury economist, says that though Rongotai is a fantastic place to live, it has been plagued by issues which previous MPs have failed to address.
“Transport in the Capital is our Achilles’ heel, especially when it comes to cycling,” says Simmons. “Current MP for Rongotai Paul Eagle has consistently failed to reconcile the concerns of residents in the electorate with real transport solutions. He is publicly on record saying he won’t be pushing a cycling agenda this election and is so far short on other transport ideas other than driving.
“I mean Eagle is 39th on Labours list,” continues Simmons. “If they don’t really want him, why should Rongotai? He’s underperforming for Rongotai.”
“In the other corner, National’s Rongotai candidate David Patterson has kicked off his campaign demanding a ‘no-nonsense’ road network, which sounds like more driving-as-usual to me.
“Wellington must house 80,000 more people in the next 30 years. There simply isn’t space for all those people to have cars. We need to provide safe transport alternatives for Wellington residents, such as improved public transport, walking, and separated cycleways,” says Simmons.
“Safe cycling offers a vital and obvious mode of transport for an electorate so close to the heart of Wellington city and I will be campaigning on ways to encourage more cycling as part of a package of options to reduce car commuter traffic in Rongotai,” Simmons is an avid cyclist and does not own a car.
Housing supply as well as the environment impact of climate change on the sea-bound electorate are also key issues Simmons will campaign on.
“We’ve got a lot of urban sprawl out along the South Coast of Wellington because we’re not seeing enough incentives for property developers to build up instead of out,” says Simmons. “A core plank of our evidence-based Housing Policy, Building Aotearoa NZ, is focussed on reducing red tape to support concentrated urban development, reducing draconian restrictions on builders and empowering local councils.
“Our housing policy, launched in April, is so relevant to Rongotai where we need a more strategic use of land to address our dire housing shortage,” says Simmons. “Frankly, it’s a disgrace. Rongotai desperately needs to build more houses for its growing population.”
“Rongotai as an electorate has been consistently underserved by its MP, and this election is an opportunity for the people to not leave change to chance,” says Simmons. “As a Rongotai resident, I know I’m not alone in my frustrations with transport and housing. We desperately need change on the South Coast. This change needs to create housing affordability while also future proofing against the impacts of sea level rises and the increased frequency of storm events.”
ACT have announced their candidate standing for Rongotai, Nicole McKee, a notable firearms advocate with a history of importing firearm components to New Zealand.
“While I don't think the good people of my electorate would ever seriously consider voting for someone with this background, it amazes me that now, of all times, just over a year on from the Christchurch mosque shootings, ACT would be putting someone of this political bent on their ticket.”
TOP has also added seven new candidates to their diverse line-up: Abe Gray, founder and former curator of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum in Dunedin will join TOP as a list MP and its cannabis spokesperson. Ben Wylie-van Eerd PhD, a research scientist, will represent TOP in the Hutt South. Joel Rowlands, a multi-talented everyman and community advocate will stand for TOP in Southland. Rob Hunter, a civil engineer and small business owner, with a background working in environmental management will be running in the Coromandel. Andrew Caie, a physiotherapist, will run in Tauranga. Helen Jeremiah, a community advocate who brings the wisdom of her years to the TOP team will run in Northland. Ben Atkinson, a social entrepreneur and support worker will run in Banks Peninsula.
These new candidates will join other TOP candidates across the country:
- Geoff Simmons, Party Leader, former Treasury economist - Rongotai
- Shai Navot, Deputy Leader, former Crown prosecutor – North Shore
- Adriana Christie, entrepreneur, Waitematā local board member – Epsom
- Ben Peters, scientist, gene editing spokesperson – Dunedin
- Brendon Monk, architect, business owner, housing spokesperson – Te Atatū
- Cameron Lord, quantity surveyor, community advocate – Mount Albert
- Jessica Hammond, policy advisor, housing and families advocate – Ōhāriu
- Mathew Pottinger, business owner, entrepreneur, UBI and tax spokesperson – Nelson
- Naomi Pocock, education spokesperson – Hamilton West
“Each of our candidates bring a different set of experience and skill to the team, such as Ōhāriu candidate Jessica Hammond who’s passionate about affordable housing and income security,” says Simmons. “Mathew Pottinger in Nelson is a big tech advocate, and deputy leader and former Crown Prosecutor Shai Navot is focused on electoral reform and the real drivers that send people into the criminal justice system.”
“We’ve got a really well-rounded team of experts across the country here to ensure that TOP continues to base its policies on evidence and expertise,” continues Simmons. “We’re in really good shape to tackle the issues that matter most to Kiwis this election.”
TOP expects to announce more candidates in the coming weeks.