"If you were elected mayor, what would you do to value and enhance the lives of people with a disability in the Tauranga area?"
The question lay in the air as eight of Tauranga City's 10 mayoral candidates mulled it over at the Western Bay of Plenty Disability Support Trust meet-the-candidate event today.
Acting as a vehicle to shift conversations and views, the event also coincided with Disability Pride week which runs until September 22.
Tenby Powell and Kelvin Clout were the top contenders as those eagerly listening to their five-minute speeches anonymously voted for the best candidate to serve Tauranga's disabled residents and their families.
"We should be the most accessible city [in New Zealand] because we are mostly flat and we are temperate," new candidate Powell said to more than 40 people in the room.
"There is only one beach mat, so sure there is a beach mat, but there is only one and we can do better than that."
Accessibility, housing and transportation were issues that were touched on by each candidate but none spoke of employment which was quickly asked when question time began.
"[The council is] a very large employer and considering the number one issue for disabled is meaningful employment - what are you going to do to show you are a leader in disability employment?"
However, most of the candidates answered this question by speaking of the ever-coming new council building and how they could make it more accessible through design - but candidate Kelvin Clout thought it was better to look at council employment policy.
"Fundamentally it comes down to us having the right employment practices... I think the first thing we need to do is sit down with the disability advisory group, work through what that policy would look like and then implement it."
Candidate John Robson believed overall the council needed empathy to be able to move forward while incumbent Greg Brownless and Andrew Hollis wanted to push central government for better funding in the sector.
Although they had told organisers they were coming, mayoral candidates Rangi Marie Kingi and Christopher Stokes were no-shows.
Source: Tauranga City Council