More than 160 people attended the Stratford Press and Newstalk ZB Meet the Candidates evening in Stratford on Wednesday night.

As well as those attending in person, a further 50 to 60 people tuned in to the Facebook live broadcast, and close to 1000 people watched in the following 12 hours.

With only one candidate, Stephen Dravitzki, unable to attend due to work commitments the 20 candidates present all tried to win the hearts and minds of Stratford voters.

Council candidates had two minutes to introduce themselves to the audience, while Mayoral candidates had four, before each candidates faced a one-minute rapid fire question round, expertly delivered by MC Bryan Vickery of Hokonui Radio.


Mayoral candidates also faced one in-depth question each, with Bryan putting them on the spot and challenging them on their answers.

And it would appear, at least from the Stratford Presses unscientific straw poll after the event, that their performance had an influence on how people intend to vote.

The (very) unscientific poll asked the audience to indicate who they planned to vote for at the start of the evening, and again at the end. To emphasise the unscientific aspect of the poll, voters were also asked to vote for which candidate they thought was most likely to save the town in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Graham Kelly made the drive from Waikato Hospital to make the evening debate, and his efforts would appear to have paid off, scoring a 100 per cent increase in voters by the end of the night for the mayoralty.

He scored equally well with voters for the rural ward where he is standing as a council candidate, with an increase of 166 per cent during the night.

He wasn't the only mayoral contender to enjoy a large increase in voter numbers during the night. Rawinia Henderson enjoyed a 60 per cent increase during the evening in the mayoral category, while her 115 per cent increase in the urban ward councillor category made her the highest polling candidate in the urban ward at the end of the night from a mid-way point at the start.

The third mayoral candidate, incumbent Neil Volzke, only received a small increase of 4.5 per cent in votes during the night, but remained the highest polling candidate throughout the evening, with a final 70 per cent of the vote.

In the Rural Ward, newcomer Amanda Harris polled highest at the start and the end of the evening. Graham Kelly enjoyed the highest increase over the night, followed by Rick Coplestone who achieved a 27 per cent increase. No candidates in the Rural Ward saw a decrease in their numbers.


In the Urban Ward, three of the incumbents started off polling highest - with John Sandford, Gloria Webby and Jono Erwood all popular with voters.

By the end of the evening, Gloria had increased her vote by six per cent, while Jono and John neither gained nor lost. The biggest increases however went to newcomers, with John Gray achieving a 250 per cent increase in votes, Ivan Toopi gaining a 120 per cent increase and Min McKay a 116 per cent.

As for the all-important Zombie apocalypse question - Ivan Toopi is the chosen one, enjoying 27 per cent of votes. Mathew Watt was next, with 18 per cent, while Jono Erwood scored 12 per cent.

A reminder to readers - the straw poll was unscientific and lighthearted - and the Stratford Press recommends making your own personal safety plan in the event of a zombie apocalypse!

Our straw poll simply captured the thoughts of the moment of some of the people who attended, and in no way claims to predict the outcome of the upcoming election.

If you weren't present on the night, check out our Facebook page - Stratford Press -to view the unedited videos of the evening.