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Young ones and frontrunners

EMILY SPINK and GEORGIA NELSON catch up with some of the Christchurch local election contenders: mayoral frontrunners Lianne Dalziel and Paul Lonsdale, and three of UC’s current and former students Jeremy Kaye, Bridget Williams and Erin Jackson.

The Young Ones

Jeremy Kaye

Jeremy is a 4th year law and arts student and is running for the Riccarton-Wigram Community Board.

He first tried his hand at governance while at Middleton Grange School, when he was on the board of trustees as student representative.

“Since the earthquakes it has been exciting to see young people get involved in the community,” he says. “I think now is a really good time for young people to be able to step up and say we are ready to participate more in society.”

He says the most important outcome of these elections, particularly given the importance of the city’s rebuild, will be achieving unity. “We need to start working together.”

Bridget Williams

Bridget is in her 3rd year of a law and arts degree, and is running for the Fendalton-Waimairi Community Board.

She is the president of the Student Volunteer Army and says that role has sculpted her leadership skills and made her more aware of what is going on in the community.

“That is one reason why I want to be involved … [and because] the decisions that councillors and community boards are making are going to affect the future of Christchurch.”

She wants to make the city more community-focused, both in terms of material and landscape design and attitudes between citizens “I’d love to see a more open perspective with the older and younger generations.”

Erin Jackson

Erin, 24, is the outgoing president of the University of Canterbury Students’ Association, and is running for council in the Spreydon-Heathcote ward.

She has a law and arts degree and is deputy chair of Student job Search, deputy chair of the Student Volunteer Army Foundation, and sits on the Arts Centre trust board.

She says the council needs fresh faces with passion and drive for the city’s future. “We need people with a fresh perspective, who have energy, who are positive.”

Christchurch is the best small city in the world, she says. It is a city that “is resilient, that is entrepreneurial, that is creative and tenacious”, and the place she wants to raise her kids.

“I want to be here and to make Christchurch a place that people are stoked to say, ‘I’m from Christchurch or I live in Christchurch’.”

The biggest challenge facing the new council is working out how to create unity. “We need a council table that wants to work together, despite different opinions and agendas, and work together on common goals.”

The Mayoral Frontrunners

Lianne Dalziel

Dalziel, who is running for One City Together [], says the government has had too much say in Christchurch and residents’ voices have been stifled.

If elected, she wants to use her mandate to talk to government about the city’s priorities, including looking at how some elements of the city blueprint might be renegotiated. Four themes have dominated local discussion about the city’s redesign – clean, green, safe and smart – and Dalziel wants to see those reconsidered in the recovery blueprint.

Preparing the council to step into the gap when the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority finishes its work in 2016 is a priority.

“The top priority is to make the council the top-performing or high-performing organisation that it has to be to take over that fundamental leadership role in the recovery of the city.”

Paul Lonsdale

Paul Lonsdale, who is running as an independent candidate, says the city has to decide what its top recovery priorities are. “Which ones are going to deliver the most benefit to the city first? The stadium probably won’t, so that’ll probably be on the back burner.”

Fast-tracking the remediation of eastern land is a priority, as is bringing “the heart” back to the community through investment in community centres.

He says only long-term strategic thinking will help the city rebuild in a way that caters for its sporting, cultural and community assets.

“We can’t just think about it in the short term. Do we lump it all on the ratepayer right now? I don’t think that’s right.”