Going Negative in the Tron

Guest Post from Hamilton Reader:

While most of the media attention is on the election of Auckland’s first Super-city Council there’s a bit of action happening down the expressway in Hamilton.

By all accounts, incumbent Mayor Bob Simcock should have slept-walked back into office. On 30 August the Waikato Times ran a headline professing it was A One-Horse Race. 37% said they’d re-elect Simcock, while just 10% said they’d elect Julie Hardaker to be Mayor of the Tron.

Simcock’s lead seems to have evaporated. Some classic campaigning by Hardaker combined with Simcock’s complacency has meant that, according to the last Waikato Times poll, Simcock is now five points behind Hardaker.

So, what does Simcock do? His campaign has turned negative. He even has the classic American-style advertisements (print and radio) about all the ways he thinks Hardaker will damage the Tron, he has the emails from the wife to all and sundry, the suggestions that Hardaker is aligned with certain people or parties, and more.

Team Hardaker meanwhile has a few of their own emails circulating and Hardaker herself has dared to suggest to sitting Councillors “It’s time to move on and let new people come forward”. Hardaker has particularly attacked the Council’s increasing debt levels and throwing good money after bad into projects like Garden Place and the Events Centre.

And, just to make life a little more interesting the CEO of the Council is now leaving for greener pastures (i.e. a Supercity CCO). Phone calls, emails and facebook updates have been around the Tron yesterday and today as it appears that the Councillors had no idea that Redman was moving on, and that Simcock allowed the usual three month notice period to be reduced to just three weeks. There are some seriously grumpy Councillors.

I am perplexed. Why couldn’t Redman’s announcement have been made next week – outside of the electioneering? The cynic in me is then answered by the latest stance from Team Simcock – that only Simcock with his vast experience can lead Hamilton with the great CEO gone. Ummm… doesn’t the Mayor lead the City? I wonder how long it will be before others suggest Redman is the rat jumping from the sinking ship?

All in all – it’ll be a close one on Saturday. Neither candidate is running for Council. There are no backstops so they are both fighting for their political lives.

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