Candidates slam councillor

Vote for us - Bill Faulkner, Doug Owens and Tony Christiansen.

It’s a simple, procedural, postal by-election to fill a vacancy at Tauranga City Council, but three weeks out from the close of voting, there has been a heated exchange of words and ideas.

The debate was fueled by sitting council member Steve Morris, who used his Weekend Sun newspaper column to fire shots at three of the candidates and express his preference for another.

And in drawing return fire, he’s been variously described as “inept”, “inappropriate” and “arrogant”.

In his column, Cr Morris says he doesn’t tell people who to vote for when they ask. “I tell them who I am voting for and why.” He says we’re spoilt for choice, with 20 candidates in all, and he processes it by eliminating those he can’t support.

The ones he named were Bill Faulkner, Tony Christiansen and Doug Owens. “It’s nothing personal,” said Cr Morris in his column.   

He couldn’t support Doug Owens because of “his support for wards based on ancestry.” He would agree with Bill Faulkner much of the time, but “after three decades on council, it’s perhaps time for a change.”

He also said: “Going on past records, I think Tony Christiansen would support the status quo, but with a 40 per cent rise in the rates forecast, I don’t want the status quo.”

Doug Owens says as a sitting councillor, Steve Morris is drawing a long bow if he thinks that trying to influence the public vote is acceptable. “It’s not,” says Doug, “and perhaps the Mayor might have a quiet word with him and explain that his elected position should not be compromised by self-indulgence.”

Doug says it shames him that he has been used by Cr Morris to play the race card. “My comments have always been based on facts. And as I was top of the Morris list, perhaps he is simply dreading having me in chamber challenging his ineptitude and dumbness.”

Tony Christiansen called Cr Morris’ column “an abuse of privilege” and believes his conduct is “questionable and inappropriate”. 

He says he’s offended by Cr Morris’ arrogance in suggesting he knows what he would and would not support when he hasn’t spoken to him in six years. “People relate to me on many things and status quo isn’t generally what I am known for,” says Tony. “I would not support a 40 per cent increase in rates.”

Bill Faulkner says Cr Morris must think he, Tony and Doug are frontrunners having singled them out.  “Perhaps I should be flattered,” says Bill. But he suggested the councillor should have done his research before bursting into print. “As for my 24 years on council, a bit of hard-headed experience and solid opposition wouldn’t go astray.”

He says Cr Morris’ vision is taking ratepayers into more debt and out of control rates increases. “I have always stood for council to stick to the basics – roads, rates and rubbish,” adds Bill.

“And that’s why Steve and his ilk won’t want me on council. The big spenders and big projects won’t get any support from me.”

In his column, Cr Morris plumped for former city councillor John Robson to fill the vacancy. “Last term we saw lower rates increases and lower debt while still delivering core infrastructure – thanks in no small part to the international business experience he bought to the table,” he said.

So that’s how he’s voting.

Tony Christiansen says Cr Morris’ use of his newspaper column to endorse a by-election candidate and undermine others is “an abuse of privilege and bordering on misrepresentation as an endorsement from city council”.

The by-election is taking place to fill the position left vacant by the death of Cr Gail McIntosh.

Voting papers are being distributed from Monday, April 9, and voting closes on Tuesday, May 1 at 12pm. Votes should be posted by Friday, April 27.


Morepork! your perceptions are suspect,

Posted on 11-04-2018 09:09 | By R. Bell

as usual. We expect that from missy, you try very hard to be rational but fail. When Steve Morris went public with his comments, he knew full well that not only was he endorsing one candidate, he was giving bad publicity to three others. If he is to be consistent he should at least comment on all. How do you expect candidates to react to damaging comment, just a day or two before voting starts? Couching his comments as advice is disingenuous in the extreme. He refers to highly debatable issues in all three cases that rise well above personal opinion and casual comment. Bad for democracy, in those who claim to champion it. Robin Bell.


Posted on 10-04-2018 19:37 | By morepork

Transparency is something that is sadly lacking in local politics here. Fortunately, media like Sun Live are making it possible for people to have a voice about it and that will improve things in the long run. In the case in point, what was interesting to me, was not whether a Councillor endorsed another candidate while pointing out perceived policy failures with some of the sitting ones; rather it was the reaction this evoked from people who felt they were being attacked. It was, to say the least, immature and indicates a "knee jerk", rather than something more thoughtful. Not what we need in our leaders. Opinions are the lifeblood of politics and shouldn’t be suppressed, but name-calling is just abuse and has no place in serious debate.

Nothing to see here....

Posted on 09-04-2018 16:50 | By GreertonBoy

move along, move along, nothing to see here. Obviously no one in government or of any importance was effected..... soooo how about we simply lift up the carpet.... a quick sweep (no one looking) .... there.... all is well (for the wealthy).As always, Average Joe and the other poor people will just have to work it out for themselves.... better luck next time.... move along....

@ morepork

Posted on 07-04-2018 13:32 | By MISS ADVENTURE

We should always encourage these debates (Morris) to be public, we should not blame the messenger of the truth for telling the truth. We should in fact be shooting those who failed to account fully, some here have got it. Perhaps some of you should refer back to past elections, a number of candidates and then current Councillors stated their view on some candidates, the paper printed it then, why is it an issue now? In fact it has revealed more than would otherwise i.e. the reactionary/truth generally speaking. We need these debates out in public rather than over a cup of tea somewhere, or say around the Councillors beer fridge at TCC!

@ nerak

Posted on 07-04-2018 13:26 | By MISS ADVENTURE

True, two of the three are past Councillors one a long-termer and certainly nothing was achieved of any merit during their seat warming stint.

@ gincat

Posted on 07-04-2018 13:24 | By MISS ADVENTURE

Perhaps if you were to be consistent here, then maybe you should for example consider the vested interest perhaps created by the sponsors of some existing Councillors? How can they enter the Council Chamber with an open mind?

@ gincat

Posted on 07-04-2018 13:22 | By MISS ADVENTURE

Perhaps, maybe he is adding to the debate by revealing the facts of it to voters, you know what isnt in the self written profiles that candidates write about themselves.

Having read Cr Morris' piece...

Posted on 07-04-2018 12:35 | By morepork

... I withdraw my criticism of him. He has expressed an opinion (I hope we never lose the right to do that in this country) and his criticism of the three Councillors was not intended to be personal (he said as much). People’s opinions will ALWAYS influence others (that’s an essential part of a Democratic society). Cr Morris has expressed his opinion publicly; YOU are free to agree or disagree with it. I see no "arrogance" in that.


Posted on 07-04-2018 12:25 | By morepork

Wouldn’t you expect a Councillor to try and influence the arrival of a new member to the Council? The question is HOW he goes about it. Politicians will always be trying to influence someone; as long as they do it fairly and honestly it isn’t dangerous. Resorting to name calling just shows a bankruptcy of wit and we see enough of that in some of the recent TCC decisions. On the basis of this showing, I wouldn’t vote for ANY of this 4... They need to grow up, address the issues (not the person), and learn to debate effectively.

Do I really...

Posted on 07-04-2018 12:15 | By morepork

...want to vote for people who name call and launch ad hominem attacks like playground bullies? These are the leaders we are going to elect? There are 4 more names on my "Don’t even think about voting for this guy" list...

Did Cr. Morris Nominate John Robson

Posted on 07-04-2018 11:37 | By Murray.Guy

At The Welcome Bay Candidates Meeting on Thursday (5 April) John Robson in his address acknowledged the presence of Cr. Steve Morris, noted his Councillor nomination and encouraged those present to talk to Cr. Morris over a cup of tea at the conclusion as to ’why they should vote for him’. It seems Cr. Morris is also on the campaign team of John Robson. Have a read of the Councillors ’Code of Conduct’.

I remember this

Posted on 07-04-2018 11:13 | By nerak ’Figures show most councillors missed 10 or less meetings during the three years.Tony put in apologies for 17, obtained a leave of absence for 16 and missed one. Tony’s meeting attendance percentage is 85 per cent, and he attended 196 of 230 meetings he was expected to attend.’ Perhaps some ratepayers also remember, and it may colour their vote. Maybe Tony is over extended? The link above gives a range of percentages from 98% down to 85%. Council meeting attendance records make good reading. As for all three complainants, what I don’t remember is what they actually achieved for the ratepayers.


Posted on 07-04-2018 09:58 | By Kaimai

I suspect this might backfire on Steve Morris.

By Election?

Posted on 07-04-2018 08:29 | By waiknot

Interestingly I tend to support Steve Morriss call. However using his platform as a councillor to voice it was an error in judgement.

out of order

Posted on 07-04-2018 07:50 | By gincat

Cr Morris clearly trying to influence the electoral process, how arrogant.No to 40% rate increase, no to increase is debt, it will come to bite council on the bum

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