Fisking the #Wgtn2013 Candidates – Eastern Ward

The fourth in our ‘Fisking the Candidates’ series where we take a look at each Ward and its candidates. Feel free to post your own picks and observations in the comments.

Eastern Ward (3 vacancies)

The ward with the most diversity on offer, it’s also probably the ward most likely to return all its incumbent Councillors. Nevertheless, there are a number of worthy challengers who, with the right mix of luck and determination, could knock off at least one of the incumbents off and claim a seat around the council table.

Simon Marsh

Marsh has acquitted himself well in his first term, proving to be an active and accessible Councillor. One of the few that has a regular email newsletter, to have a branded caravan to run regular ward clinics out of and keeps a very good website and social media presence. Should be rewarded with an easy re-election

Peter Kennedy

Doesn’t have a picture on his official bio and believes the ward will know him through his numerous letters to the editor. Probably not the best campaign strategy.

Leonie Gill

With the addition of Labour colleague Paul Eagle around the Council table Leonie Gill seems to have discovered a new sense of purpose and drive over the last term which probably played a big part in her decision to stand again, despite recent health scares.

Like Marsh, Gill is incredibly active and is rewarded accordingly. In 2010 she topped the vote on first preferences. She should be returned again this election, whether she tops the ward, only time will tell.

John Coleman

A surprise entrant in to the race, Coleman could pull off an upset win if he runs a strong/visible campaign (like Lester and Marsh in 2010)  that highlights his impressive track record with some of Wellington’s iconic restaurants and events. Could be in for a good tussle with Free for the 3rd seat.

Ray Ahipene-Mercer

Compared to his other Eastern Ward colleagues Ahipene-Mercer has been pretty non-existent for much of the last term. Going for a sixth term, I was surprised he decided to stand again. Incumbency is his biggest strength (and weakness).

Karunanidhi Muthu

Muthu is also running for mayor which will help his name recognition in the Ward. Has the shortest and one of the weakest candidate statements where he says he believes he won’t win, then in the next sentence asks for your vote anyway.

Despite his pessimism, he seems to be pumping money in to his campaigns with billboards in the city and other material. He’s even received large anonymous campaign donations. Probably isn’t a serious threat to any incumbents. Nevertheless, his campaign aim of engaging more of the ethnic Wellingtonian community in Council activity is a good one and I wish him every success in that.

Va’ai Va’a Potoi

Doesn’t claim to have the best ideas, but supports them. Probably wont challenge for the top 3.

Sarah Free

If there were to be an upset, it would be the Green Party’s Southern Ward carpetbagger Sarah Free picking up the third seat and knocking out Ahipene-Mercer (or even potentially Gill). To Free’s credit she is running a highly visible campaign, is door knocking, has a good website and social media (mainly Facebook), is attending the meetings she needs to, is open about not living in the ward and has committed to moving there if successful.

Free also has the advantage of the Green brand and machine which will help make up for any lack of name recognition. She has won praise from those not usual keen on Greens, which could help her pick up of preferences.

Rob Goulden

Probably the worst behaved councillor in recent times and ultimately voted out as a result. The less said about him the better. I doubt the Eastern Ward will want him representing them for another three years and he wont make the top 3.

Graham McCready

We briefly covered McCready when nominations were being released by the Council. Will he poll higher than Goulden?


  • Picks –Simon Marsh, Leonie Gill, Ray Ahipene-Mercer
  • Dark Horse – Sarah Free, John Coleman



7 responses to “Fisking the #Wgtn2013 Candidates – Eastern Ward

  1. Sarah Free is interesting, what is more interesting is the entire collapse of support from the Green Party for its traditional candidates. Celia is apparently on the out, not seen as entirely supporting the Green side of things and flip-flopping on issues. I’ve had a second source tell me that Iona Pannett was asked by the Green Party to stand as an independent, not a Green, with the rumour being that the Green’s think she has damaged their brand. We are as yet to see the Green Party endorse a mayor. The only two that are flying on their ticket are Sarah Free and David Lee, both of whom are what I would call “Neo-Green”. A hell of a lot smarter than the previous incumbents and also much more balanced in their approach. It will be interesting to see how they fare.

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