In one of the more lively debates in recent history, mayoral candidates have been grilled by members of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce on everything from term limits to roading projects.

About 100 people were at the Novotel Rotorua today to hear from their mayoral candidates at an event run by the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Rotorua Daily Post.

But, chamber members and paying guests did not get the opportunity to hear from all seven candidates with Frances Louis boycotting the event saying the cost of $30 for non-members to attend was prohibitive as she wanted to bring her father.

None of the candidates had to pay to attend, said chamber chief executive Darrin Walsh.

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There was also a public dispute between candidate RangiMarie Kingi - who ran for mayor under the name RangiMarie Bosma in the 2013 election - and Toni Waaka, the daughter of former district councillor, the late Maureen Waaka (nee Kingi), about using the Kingi name and whakapapa on her campaign material.

Members and guests of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce were treated to a lively mayoral debate at the Novotel yesterday.
Members and guests of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce were treated to a lively mayoral debate at the Novotel yesterday.

Each candidate was given five minutes to put forward their policies and make their case for the mayoralty, but it was the questions from the floor that got candidates thinking on their feet.

Local businessman Ray Cook was keen to hear what candidates thought about imposing term limits on councillors.

He suggested the council needed a regular turnover of councillors "instead of the same old faces who have been on council far too long".

All candidates, except Dr Reynold Macpherson who did not answer the question, said term limits should be considered.

Mark Gould said three consecutive terms was long enough and councillors should step down for a term before considering running for another three years.

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Ms Kingi said younger leaders should always be considered and John Rakei-Clark said some councillors had been there too long and fresh faces would make a difference.

Rob Kent said a three term maximum would be good as the turnover of councillors would bring fresh ideas.

Steve Chadwick said she would support term limits, but wanted to see terms of four years introduced in both local and central government.

Candidates were also questioned about what they would do with roading infrastructure after the Victoria St Arterial and the Rotorua Eastern Arterial projects had both been dumped, what they would do to improve safety in the city and if they had plans to utilise solar power in the future.

After the candidates had all introduced themselves, Westpac's Steve Pinder drew the largest round of applause from the audience when he told candidates they were mainly a negative bunch and he was becoming depressed by some of their negativity and their suggestions Rotorua was in trouble were not fair.

 Westpac's Steve Pinder reminded candidates they needed to be a little more positive in their descriptions of Rotorua. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
Westpac's Steve Pinder reminded candidates they needed to be a little more positive in their descriptions of Rotorua. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

Retailer Mike Steiner was also concerned with comments from some candidates that the central city was an unsafe mess after the removal of the City Focus and allegations foot traffic had decreased.

He said it was the best he had seen the city in almost 30 years doing business in Rotorua, "the CBD is a bright, attractive and engaging public place and much safer than it was three years ago", after which he promptly got up and left the meeting.