Two candidates for the 2018 Tauranga City by-election give rise to concern.
Mr Tony Christiansen is the ex-councillor who was notorious for his frequent absences at council meetings as he conducted his private business and sporting interests during his 2010-2013 tenure. He is the same person who wrote in his 2013 profile for his failed bid to be re-elected: “I am not a politician and I don't ever want to be”.
Ms Anne Pankhurst is the ex-councillor who during her 2004-2007 tenure caused me to publicly write after hearing her perform at the 2007 Annual Plan hearings: “I was appalled at the conduct of councillor Anne Pankhurst. She punctuated the meeting with personal attacks on fellow councillors, made audible snide remarks, and rudely talked with neighbouring councillors whilst others were speaking”. She is the same person who in 2004 was convicted in court and heavily fined for failing to lodge GST returns and pay income tax for seven taxable periods between 2000 and 2004 despite many IRD reminders.
Tauranga ratepayers and the body elected to serve them do not need people who don't ever want be a politician, or can't be bothered paying taxes and treat fellow councillors with contempt.
P Harlen, Mount Maunganui.
Tony Christiansen responds:
Assuming that Mr Harlen read beyond the phrase he quoted, I am surprised, since he hates councillors for being precisely that – politicians.
The excerpt was from a blog post I wrote during my term which I welcome everyone to read. Politicians aren't transparent and don't always have our interests at heart. My interests are Tauranga and its ratepayers. I support policies not because they win votes. I don't have personal agendas. I speak not for press coverage. I say what I think and do what I say.
It's disheartening that Mr Harlen's measure of a good councillor is a politician who attends just 70+ meetings a year. He knows little about my absences, a long bout of which was due to illness.
During my term, I attended more than 500 meetings, more than any other councillor, but only 196 were recorded. There are sitting councillors who can attest to that. I could be like those who merely attended recorded meetings and did little else, but I chose to get involved in eight sub-committees where real work happened and where I could make a difference. I challenge all councillors, past, present and future to do the same.
Anne Pankhurst responds:
The tax issue was in 2004 and dealt with extensively in the media at the time. I do pay my taxes subsequently. I am not even aware of Mr Harlen's further comments on my behaviour, again as it was some 10 years ago. I find it interesting that Mr Harlen speaks of behaviours even as far back as 10 years ago, and yet continues with what is a personal attack and does not consider that challenging behaviour. However, in the interests of democracy he is indeed welcome to his opinion.