Election candidates: 'We were never consulted'

By John Cousins

2 comments
Clayton Mitchell declares "I am not in Bob Clarkson's pocket".
Clayton Mitchell declares "I am not in Bob Clarkson's pocket".

Four Tauranga City Council election candidates say they were never consulted on newspaper advertisements in which they appear to endorse the opinions of property developer Bob Clarkson.

Photos of Kelvin Clout, Matt Cowley, Gail McIntosh and Clayton Mitchell featured in one of Mr Clarkson's two advertisements which included the provocative idea of extending the downtown's waterfront reclamation by 80 metres.

"Bob is on his own little planet," said Ms McIntosh. "How could he think he could do that and not damage us."

She said she had spoken to Mr Clarkson once over the last five years: "I am totally annoyed, how dare he."

Ms McIntosh said that even if Mr Clarkson had asked her permission she would have declined because she did not agree with everything he said.

Mr Mitchell responded: "I was just as shocked as anyone else ... I am not in Bob Clarkson's pocket."

Mr Clarkson said they were his thoughts and had nothing to do with the four candidates whom he included because he thought they would add new blood to the council.

"They are acting like bloody kids," he said in response to them distancing themselves from his advertisement because it looked like they were endorsing his ideas. "I see no relevance whatsoever. I don't see why I needed to put it past them first ... I am simply saying they would have done a good job."

He said it gave the four candidates a big opening to get their names recognised. "I am stunned. I say what's the problem? People are too soft, they're weak with no guts."

Issues raised by Mr Clarkson included debt, the city centre and its planned university campus, and affordable housing. The wording was couched in terms "we" and "let's".

He opposed putting the campus next to the Bongard Centre. In a thinly disguised reference to student-drinking he said, "We wish to turn the town centre into a shopping centre, not a booze barn".

Mr Clarkson advocated giving control of the downtown to shop owners and letting them decide about parking. He also advocated opening up some greenfields outside the city boundary for affordable housing - something he has been pushing for years for farmland he owns beside the Wairoa River.

Mr Clout said although he did not know about the advertisement, his view was "this is Bob - he likes to stir the pot". He said it could be damaging if people thought he was agreeing with everything Mr Clarkson was saying.

Although the three other candidates denied receiving campaign funding from Mr Clarkson, Mr Clout said he had received some donations from business people and friends, none above the $1500 threshold.

"I am not saying that Bob is one of those people. I am not going to divulge any of my donations," he said.

Mr Clout said he would not be beholden to people who contributed to his campaign costs. "I have no qualms about accepting donations from anyone that wants positive change."

Mr Cowley said he has never met or communicated with Mr Clarkson. "I was surprised he did not contact me." It was an integrity issue and he did not want to get voted on to the council because of Mr Clarkson's opinions.

Ms McIntosh was unsure of the electoral repercussions, saying it could lose or gain her votes. Mr Mitchell was not angry about what had happened, saying that part of him was quite chuffed that he had been selected.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 01 Aug 2014 13:11:00 Processing Time: 478ms