By-election race not over yet.

Damian Light, Olivia Montgomery and Jim Donald are in the race to become the next Howick Ward Councillor.

Transport, congestion and rates were the top issues raised at the Howick Youth Council by-election debate on Tuesday night.

Held at Uxbridge Arts & Culture, the event attracted a decent turnout — from the audience at least.

Disappointingly, only three candidates were able to make it to the event. Damian Light, Olivia Montgomery and Jim Donald showed up campaigning in full force, while apologies were sent from Jessica Collings, who is currently working as a camp counsellor in the United States, Phil Taylor who had an important family engagement and Paul Young who also had prior commitments.

The debate felt like a breath of fresh air. While all three candidates have previously stood for local council in some form, the fresh approach from Howick Youth Council in live-streaming the event, and getting the audience — and candidates – to actively use their mobile phones for the interactive live polling made me sit up and pay attention.

Issues discussed included transport, rates, youth engagement, mental health, environment and intensification — and while candidates differed in views, they all seemed to agree that east Auckland needs work.

Transport was rated the top concern for the area in a live audience poll with each candidate promising to make a difference. Montgomery said she’d like to see cycling be more popular while Light reaffirmed his support for the Eastern Busway — but disagreed with the planned Reeves Rd flyover. Donald said the new bus network had made it easier to catch a connecting bus to and from the Half Moon Bay ferry but hoped to one day see a wharf built at Howick Beach to increase accessibility to the city and also voiced his support for a link to the airport.

By the end of the night it seemed to be a near even split on if the debate had convinced anyone to change their vote – but the race isn’t over yet.

There’ll be another chance to meet the candidates — hopefully all six of them — at East City Wesleyan Church on Tuesday 28 August at 7.30pm.

  • Postal votes are in the process of being sent out. Results will be declared on September 13.