Botany by-election: Master and the apprentice

RAPPORT: Julie Patterson, candidate for the Botany by-election says she is a fixer and likes asking the hard questions.Times photo Farida Master.

It didn’t take long for one of Julie Patterson’s election signs to be ripped off.

“But it’s ok, I am told these things happen,” she says lightly, shrugging it off.

Mrs Patterson is fighting for a seat on the Howick Local Board, Botany subdivision in the forthcoming by-election.

She has a sense of humour, enjoys a good chat…and scones with jam and cream, says her pink campaign publicity flyer which her father described as “too pink”, she admits.

Everyone deserves a good chuckle, believes the feisty ex-cop who has been door-knocking and doing the rounds, including standing outside Pak’nSave Botany, reaching out to people in the electorate.

“People think you want to sell them something and want money out of them,” laughs the 54-year-old.

“They look at you suspiciously or try to avoid you when you introduce yourself.”

But the former cop is an old hand at building rapport with strangers. Around 26 years in the police service had taught her well in terms of connecting with people.

“I’ve been a jack of all trades—having been in the transport enforcement unit, specialising in traffic flow, conflict, crashes, commercial vehicles, and design and layout of roads, to name a few,” she says.

This sharp-shooter who has been exceptionally good at handling firearms, has worked with a vast representation of society which includes the Ministry of Forest and Agriculture (MAF) as well as truck drivers, drug dealers,  drunk party revellers, school children and those involved in family violence.

Talking about what drove her to contest the Botany by-election, she says the trigger was reading the newspaper announcing that there were just three guys – Mike Turinsky, Mark Johnson and Malcolm Page – contesting the seat left vacant after newly sworn-in member Lucy Schwaner resigned.

‘Where is the female candidate?’ she wanted to know.

It was on the morning of December 22, the last day for filing in nominations, that she registered her interest.

“I am a fixer. A doer,” she says.

“I am straight up, honest and someone who likes to ask the hard questions. There are lot of things that need looking into and need answers.

“Like the little, wriggly road from Chapel Road, (near St Paul’s in the Park Church) that narrows down drastically as it leads to the busy Ormiston Road. There have been a lot of accidents in the past. Why is nothing being done about it?” she questions.

“Or all those cars parked just outside Bruce McLaren Retirement Village that cause traffic congestion. Most of the cars parked on the busy road belong to the residents of the retirement village so why was no parking space allocated in the premises when it was built?”

While Mrs Patterson is quite green when it comes to local politics, she is confident that she has a mentor in good friend, Auckland councillor Sharon Stewart.

“Though I only informed Sharon after I had filed my nomination, she has been very supportive and has been advising me.

“She’s my master and I’m the apprentice.

“Even now whilst I am talking to the Times Sharon is helping me deliver the flyers in people’s mailboxes. She’s been around forever in local politics and has a very good idea of how things work.”