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Greytown candidates face thorough grilling

Who will secure the last seat on the Greytown Community Board – the new citizen or a well-known family name?

It’s a Shakespearean battle, albeit an exceedingly collegial one.

An empty board seat following Local Body Elections in October has forced a by-election, with voting closing on February 17.

Candidates Janette Wallace Gedge and Neil Morison squared off in two public meetings last week chaired by South Wairarapa Mayor Martin Connelly.

Connelly said the forums were a chance for people to meet their candidates and ask questions.

The mayor said he was impressed with the community’s engagement, with about 35 people attending the afternoon session on Wednesday.

However, it was not without conflict.

“It was a tale of two halves. There was more forceful questioning and people were looking for more direct answers in the afternoon session.

“A number of things came up quite bluntly – the candidates’ stance of vaccination and fluoridation.”

Both candidates had been interested in throwing their hat in the ring during last year’s elections but had missed out – Wallace Gedge due to an ongoing citizenship process and for Morison a date mishap.

“I was thinking about it more and more, and I went to get the [nomination] papers, but by then, it was too late. I was kicking myself,” he said.

Wallace Gedge, who has lived in Greytown for five years, said her long career in communications and community engagement made her well-suited for the position.

“I want to maintain Greytown’s village atmosphere, but we also need to develop.”

She said a community plan that outlined a long-term vision for the town would be a main goal should she be elected.

“I would like to see a strong link between the board, community, and council, everyone working together and a good community plan in place.”

Conversely, Morison is Greytown born and bred, with his family living in the area for generations.

Morison said he would bring experience to the community board, having served on several committees and teams over the years.

He said his pragmatism and hands-on experience as a farmer was a key strength, and agreed with Wallace Gedge that a better link between the community and council was necessary.

“I don’t know where the missing part has been, but I think moving forward, we need to see some community bonding with council.

“I get along well with everyone, and I’m a good communicator in person.”

Over the past year, Greytown has grappled with a number of contentious issues: Notably, proposals for a solar farm on the outskirts of the town and a Fresh Choice supermarket entranceway from Main St.

Wallace Gedge and Morison said they were against the creation of a third entranceway to the supermarket, citing safety issues with the pedestrian crossing as the main reasons for opposition.

Regarding solar farms in the area, Morison said he was personally against it but that the ‘hatred’ that had sprung up around the debate needed to stop.

“I don’t think we want to see any good farmland go to waste, but we need a green power supply. Communication with the people affected is key.”

Wallace Gedge said she could see both sides of the argument.

“We have to reduce emissions. It’s a big question and something we need to talk to the wider community about.”

    Postal voting must be no later than February 14. Voting papers can be dropped to either Greytown Library or the SWDC offices in Martinborough before noon on February 17.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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