Hundreds of people packed into Forum North tonight to hear the Northern Advocate's Whangārei Mayoral Candidates debate.

The event, which kicked off at 6pm, saw all three mayoral candidates for the Whangārei District Council - Sheryl Mai; Tony Savage and Alex Wright - answer questions from readers, the business community and others.

And judging by the questions sent in, voters are concerned about a wide range of issues.
Questions for the candidates from readers included:

''What do you propose to do regarding the litter problem in Whangārei?''

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''Do you support the precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions, policies and rules in various local council plans in Northland and Auckland?''

''Given that 30 per cent of the population of Whangārei is Māori, what will you do to ensure that their voice is heard in council decision making now and into the future?''

''What do you propose to do about peak hour traffic congestion in central Whangārei?''

''Whangārei is seen as a pit stop for tourists on the way to the Bay of Islands, what will you do to change this perception?''

''Do you agree with the sentiment that parking costs are to blame for the lack of patronage of the CBD and what, as mayor, would be your answer?''

''How can council do more to help the region's poorest citizens?''

From the business sector questions included:

''How will you be part of a movement that will see business growth and accelerated rates of new business establishment; facilitate ease of business, a fairer approach to rating, zoning, consents and other unnecessary barriers?''

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''What will be your focus when directing council support of the business community?"

And questions from the district's youth included:

''What action will you take to make Whangārei a safe place for youth?''

"Do you have an idea for increasing availability of jobs for students coming home from university or after school employment for youth?'

The popular meet the mayoral candidates vent is one of the largest held in Northland for the local body elections. A wrap of the event will be in Wednesday's Northern Advocate as it finished too late for Tuesday's edition.