There’s little appetite among Hamilton’s West Ward candidates to revisit the fluoride debate.
All but one of the 16 candidates contesting a seat in the city’s west fronted at a forum hosted by Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe on Friday.
About a third of the two-hour session was taken up by candidates introducing themselves to the 100-strong audience before the meeting was opened up to questions from the floor.
Asked if they would rekindle the fluoride debate if elected to council, none of the political hopefuls expressed a desire to do so.
The council recommenced fluoridating Hamilton’s water in early 2014, following a referendum in which 66.09 percent of voters supported a return to fluoridation.
The council has since agreed to provide fluoride-free water at two sites in the city – Taitua Arboretum and the Claudelands Events Centre.
The Claudelands tap is expected to be switched on this month.
Candidate Siggi Henry said the council had made a decision on fluoridation, although she wasn’t excited by the choice.
“But, hey, that’s what happens,” she said.
Geoff Taylor said the public had spoken on fluoride and didn’t believe the council should revisit the issue.
“And I don’t see any reason why the DHB shouldn’t be the ones leading it. They’re the health experts and that’s what it’s all about,” Taylor said.
Boris Puran Samujh said the referendum made it clear what the majority of residents thought about fluoride, but believed more could be done to cater for those who favoured non-fluoridated water.
Martin Gallagher said the results of the Hamilton referendum should be respected, but predicted some Waikato communities could opt for fluoride-free water.
“I think we will have a patchwork quilt in the Waikato, quite frankly. I think some parts of Waikato, based on community consultation, will not have it, but other parts, based on community consultation and possible referendum, will,” Gallagher said.
There was less consensus among candidates on other issues, such as whether they favoured trading on Easter Sunday.
Cathy Holland, Chris Jordan, Peter Bos, Andrew King, Peter Humphreys, Dave Macpherson, Hiki Toroa, Gallagher, Samujh and Henry all opposed a move to Easter Sunday trading.
In favour of Easter Sunday trading were Max Coyle, Angela O’Leary, Leo Tooman, Pat Kaio and Taylor.
Other issues canvassed included water meters, development in the city’s south, the council’s district plan, elected members’ accountability to the public, and young people.
Asked if they supported a daily commuter rail service between Hamilton and Auckland, the majority of candidates favoured the idea.
Macpherson said he was a long-time supporter of a daily rail link and believed the city council, together with Auckland Council and the Government, should work to advance the idea.
King, however, said supporters of a rail link had to “get real”, saying any service would require ratepayers to subsidise passengers to the tune of $80 a seat.
“Someone’s going to have to pay for it. We put in fast rail, you ratepayers are going to have to pay for it. Auckland Council say they’re not going to get involved,” King said.