Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

City councillors at war

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John Robson and Bev Edlin. Photo/file
John Robson and Bev Edlin. Photo/file

A city councillor has accused mayoral candidate John Robson of publicly attacking her integrity -- and lawyers have been called in.

Cr Bev Edlin alleges councillor Robson is ''trying to tarnish my reputation'' after comments he made about her in an advertisement published in a newspaper.

The advertisment, authorised by Cr Robson, was published in last Friday's Weekend Sun after a public candidates meeting in Matua last Wednesday night. Each candidate was given the chance to tell the audience about their skills and background.

In the advertisment, Cr Robson said: "I heard an impressive-sounding pitch from one candidate - implying an unrivalled level of corporate board-level experience - something I have and value highly. Fortunately, I have access to the internet - and two minutes on-line told a very different story. For some the truth is a small price to pay for the money and mana they will get from being elected."


Cr Robson did not use Cr Edlin's name in the advertisement but she believed his comments were directed at her.

''It's not below the belt, it's not dirty politics -- it's worse,'' she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

The Otūmoetai/Pyes Pa ward councillor is seeking re-election to the city council, and election to the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

She had asked for an apology from Cr Robson through her lawyer.

Cr Edlin, whose election flyer promotes her has having a ''reputation and experience you can trust'' and spells out six key credentials, said she was still waiting for the apology, ''which disappoints me in the sense the people that left that room and read that article would have inferred I told a number of porkies.''

Her list of credentials also says she has held senior management positions, working for organisations such as the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, New Zealand Post Ltd, and Philips as well as working in finance construction, legal and regional development sectors.

Cr Edlin said she had taken a stand because in her opinion it was unacceptable behaviour with questionable timing.

''When you are attacking my (credentials), and that includes Massey University, you are also inferring that I have put out false documents. You can't check my credentials online in two minutes but I am telling the truth... I can substantiate every word and added to that is my little box of tricks downstairs in my garage that has references and letters.''

Some months ago she wondered about throwing them out, she said.

''Now I have every bit of proof that I can have that I've provided to my lawyer,'' she said.

''I am ethical, I value my integrity and I can verify every word.''

Cr Gail McIntosh, who was supporting Cr Edlin, said in her opinion Cr Robson's comments amounted to bullying.

''Over the three-year period, Cr Robson has been difficult to deal with and at times has gone beyond challenging a point of view. He has made inappropriate comments about our ability to govern as a group and individuals.''

She said it was not surprising so few women were standing for election.

''We have five women and 30 men in our local authority standing and when they see people like Bev being criticised and think 'I couldn't stand that type of thing... I am not putting myself out there as simple as that'.''

When contacted by the Bay of Plenty Times, Cr Robson would not comment other than to say: ''We are in the middle of an election.''

Cr Edlin said she was not sure what the next step would be if Cr Robson refused to apologise.

Bev Edlin's election flyer lists the following:
- Awarded Excellence in Governance Development at this year's Women in Governance Awards
- A PhD in Governance, focused on effective decision-making and boardroom behaviour
- Deputy Chair of Bay of Plenty's Institute of Directors
- Tauranga YMCA and Netball Waikato-Bay of Plenty board member
- Rotarian
- Member of the Maori Business and Merge Networks

- Bay of Plenty Times

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