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Campaign Speech- Hataitai Candidates Meeting

September 19, 2016

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The candidates meetings have all been interesting, with good questions asked from the floor. Here’s my speech from the Hataitai candidates meeting yesterday – I’m happy to answer any questions!

“Tena koutou katoa – Thank you all for coming today; thanks also to the residents’ association for organizing it. I’m Sarah Free, one of your Eastern Ward councillors and a proud local resident.

I have an engineering degree and Masters in Public Health, and experience in engineering, education, housing and health- I’ve just recently posted a little more about my experience on my website for those who are interested.

As a Councillor, I’ve worked constructively with others. I’ve secured funding for the Leonie Gill Pathway, new bus shelters, pedestrian safety improvements and local stormwater projects. I’ve led library upgrades and won funding for community centres.

I’m proud to have lobbied the Regional Council in 2014 to freeze bus fares; and to have been a strong supporter of paying the Living Wage to our Council staff, I’ve also helped with the Town Belt Bill, moved an amendment to reduce the number of Pokie machines allowed in our pubs, I’ve supported funding to reduce graffiti, and more funding for Te Mahana, our programme for the homeless.

We live in a wonderful city, but there’s more to be done. I’m asking for your vote to continue on Council to represent you- so what will I prioritise if you re-elect me?

This time around transport in all its various forms is my number one priority. Traffic congestion is a HUGE issue for many, as is the cost of getting around.

I’ll support some roading improvements and a second tunnel through Mt Victoria if I can see it makes sense and also gives better cycling and walking options for our communities.

But we can’t just focus on roads- I also want to work closely with the Regional Council to get better public transport. We must get the integrated ticketing, off peak discounts, youth fares, and weekend and evening services that the Regional Council has long promised. I don’t want to have my Gold Card before this happens! We’ll also need proper transport hubs if more people need to change buses, accessible, warm dry and safe shelters, and free wifi if possible. And good information, with buses coming on time, and NO suddenly cancelled services.
So, I will be a strong voice for a convenient and affordable public transport system and for safer walking and cycling as well.
I want more investment in footpaths and walkways, there’s very little money for this at present. I‘ve lobbied for a safer crossing across Cobham Drive near the ASB Centre since coming onto Council,- there’s money now set aside for it and it must happen. We also now have the proposed new cycle/walkway around the bays from Miramar to the city, it must have separation for cyclists and walkers, but I believe this will be a real success and something we can all celebrate.

So the first thing is Transport, the second is Resilience. Climate change is real, and we are already seeing that in seal level rise, and more frequent and severe heavy weather events, which impact heavily on our area.

I will continue to support investment for a future-proofed safe city;- water infrastructure, sea walls, earthquake strengthening, good community infrastructure, emergency planning. I want to see more warm dry affordable homes, especially for first home buyers, and more social housing. – I want to support our local businesses well, so that they can continue to provide jobs and much needed goods and services to us all. I also want to ensure we look after our environment by reducing waste and litter, especially plastic waste, looking after our beaches and planting more trees in our open spaces.

And finally – Rates. We need to spend rates wisely, but spend enough so that the city is attractive and works well and people want to live and work here. The basics must come first. I’ll ask for robust business cases before spending on big economic projects. At present I can’t support the Runway extension- no business case, years of disruption to residents-environmental damage, and no airline has said they will come- right now this is indeed looking like corporate welfare.

To summarise, I want to capitalize on the experience gained in my first term on Council. I’m very grateful for the support I received last time, it’s been a privilege to represent you, and I’ve worked hard to deliver good outcomes for our city and ward. I’m asking for you to continue to support me by giving me your first preference vote. I’ll prioritise protecting what we have and wise spending for the future, especially in the way of transport and resilience.

Together, we can make this great city even greater!”

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