A swipe at incumbent councillors by election hopeful Geoff Wilson is being labelled a “cheapshot” by his more experienced rivals.
First-time Wakatipu ward hopeful Wilson this week sent a letter to Mountain Scene accusing councillors wanting re-election of “passing the buck” when questioned about “tricky” subjects at public meetings.
“It is amazing the sitting councillors who are re-standing want to duck for cover, pass the buck and place the blame on mayor Clive [Geddes] conspiring with the other high-ranking officials in Queenstown Lakes District Council or its companies’ heads,” Wilson’s letter states.
It goes on: “Those re-standing say it will be different with a new mayor and themselves re-serving. Well hello – same old, same old.
“The councillors who have just served one or two terms is where the blame should rest, for if they acted together, in unison, they should have had more power than mayor Clive.”
Vanessa van Uden – standing for mayor – says Wilson’s comments are “a cheap shot at people who have worked very hard”.
“I don’t believe that’s what we have said at all. I’ve told people that I’ve said no to the things I don’t agree with, like rates increases, Lakes Leisure and the long-term plan and that I’ve stuck true to my position,” she says.
“It hasn’t necessarily gone absolutely as people like me would’ve liked but that’s also the name of democracy. I don’t think anybody has blamed Clive for everything.”
Two-term councillor John Mann agrees: “Perhaps [Wilson] was there at the meetings physically but somewhere else mentally because it doesn’t reflect what I remember.
“I think [Wilson’s comments] are a gross misrepresentation and lack of understanding … it’s an election speech with a hint of desperation, I’d say.”
Arrowtown candidate Lex Perkins – a friend of Wilson’s – says his mate phoned him to apologise before he saw the letter.
“I can see why he apologised to me now,” Perkins says, after hearing what the letter contains.
“I will say it’s a bit naive on Geoff’s situation. He’s got a lot to learn about politics and I’m sure if he gets on it’ll be a big learning curve for him…”
Fellow incumbent Mel Gazzard says Wilson’s “just politicking”.
“I could say one or two things about the man but I won’t because I’m not going to go to that level.
“He’s insinuating the councillors have had no input and that’s wrong. That might be his take on things but his insinuation that Clive ran the show and councillors did nothing is quite wrong.”
Cath Gilmour is “surprised” by Wilson’s comments and says she never ducked for cover or passed blame.