Advance voting in the Mount Roskill by-election begins today.
Labour's candidate Michael Wood and National list MP Parmjeet Parmar are the two main contenders for the seat left vacant after Phil Goff won the Auckland mayoralty.
They were among six hopefuls who fronted up to a meet the candidates event last night at the Lynfield Community Church.
The meeting began with a warning from the church's minister, Nyasha Gumbeze.
"Having this meeting in a church is like swearing on the Bible, so don't make any false promises. But if you do at the end of the service, I'll be in my office there, you can come and confess."
The candidates faced questions about what they would do about crime and safety, and housing affordability, and well as their views on issues including voluntary euthanasia and medicinal cannabis.
Michael Wood was pressed on Labour's plan to fast-track a light rail network from central Auckland, down Dominion Road to Mount Roskill and whether it was the best answer to Auckland's public transport woes.
"Light rail moves four times as many people as the bus network; you can have five-minute frequencies and it's environmentally friendly as well. It has it all over buses in every single one of those respects.
"We can buy a little bit more time by making improvements to the bus network, but as any of you who use buses know it'll only get us so far, they're so overcrowded, light rail is the only way to really solve this problem."
But his National Party opponent Parmjeet Parmar was not so keen. She wants priority transit lanes to be abolished to reduce congestion, as well as improvements to the bus network.
"We cannot ask people to get rid of their cars if we are not providing them with good options to get onto buses.
"So T3 lanes [for vehicles with three or more people] definitely are causing more congestion - they are under-utilised. So if we can distribute the traffic into another lane that will definitely ease traffic.
"My goal is to first provide public transport that's working for people. We already have the infrastructure for buses."
Parmjeet Parmar also faced questions about what National was doing about Auckland's shortage of secondary school teachers.
She said the government was providing more career opportunities, with added pay benefits, for teachers to encourage them to stay in the job.
But Michael Wood said housing affordability was at the heart of the problem.
"If you're on a $60,000 teacher's income and the average cost of a house in Mt Roskill is $1 million, and you're in your late 20s, early 30s, you want to set up in life, you've just got no hope of ever owning your own home in Auckland.
"That is actually the core of a teacher shortage crisis in this city."
Housing affordability and transport were in the minds of some of those at the meeting. One described housing as pathetic saying wages were so low, that it was impossible for two people working and on moderate incomes to save money to buy a house.
Advance voting begins today for the by-election on 3 December.
- Michael Wood - Labour
- Parmjeet Parmar - National
- Roshan Nauhria - NZ People's Party
- Richard Goode - Not a Party
- Andrew Leitch - Democrats for Social Credit
- Tua Schuster - Independent
- Brandon Stronge - The Cannabis Party