In a few sentences describe who you are?
I’m not a politician for a start. I’m one of the regular people, grassroots so to speak. I spent the first 16 years of my adult life learning how to design, diagnose and repair factory automation equipment. A hydraulic and pneumatic engineer. Then the last 15 or so playing around in media. Freelance, radio, tv, journalism, photography, videography, editor (magazine and video). I’ve had a good time with it.
I’m a husband of 23 years with two young adults raised in this difficult and expensive city. I’m blunt, I call a spade a spade, and I don’t tolerate idiots, arrogance, and ignorance. I’ll call people out on any of those things and not feel at all bad about doing it.
How did you get the nickname “Sooty”?
Sooty came about from political correctness. I was adopted into a white middle class pakeha family when I was 2 weeks old, so I’ve always been the black sheep of the family. It’s been a lot of laughs. Anyway, I had two nicknames at school “shorty” and “black” and no one cared – especially me. But I’m sure you can imagine how that wouldn’t work anymore! It became Sooty….
Why would people vote for you?
Because I’ll do what I say I will do and I don’t lie about it. If I don’t have the solution or answers from my own head I’ll say so, but I always do what I can to find the answer – and I don’t have an ego which means I’m not scared to admit I don’t know. I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong or if I don’t know. That trait makes me a researcher to the point of ridiculous though because I’m desperate to have the answers.
I’m also well aware of what the job is – and happy to resonate that. It’s leadership, not dictatorship, and that’s 100% opposite of what the other main two candidates show. It’s also hugely a spokesperson role – and that’s one of my fortes.
I grew up in Scouting. My Dad was a leader, my brother and I went right through the system, my Mother and sister were in Guides and they did the same. Then I became a leader, Cubs, Scouts Venturers. You learn a lot about leadership from that world. It was the same in the engineering game as you work with a team and when you are foreman and manager you learn how to lead very quickly or you fail. The other really important part of the about engineering side of things is I was taught how to fault find and come up with solutions. A machine is a machine, mechanical moving parts or people the process is the same. Study it, find out how it works, find out where the fault is, fix it.
In saying all that, the most important point is that I’m real. You’ll get just as much humour as you will seriousness, but you’ll also get someone willing to listen and someone that loves a challenge – this is a challenge! I’m opinionated, candid and brutally honest – brutally. But I’m also genuine and down-to-earth so you won’t be left wondering.
People won’t vote for you if they think it’s a wasted vote so what do you say to them?
It’s not Central Party Politics with MMP. This is FPP. You vote, and your vote actually means something, it counts. If everyone stopped the wasted vote rhetoric and got on with voting for me it solves the problem. If you are apathetic about it, then it is a genuine wasted vote. JT and PG are all about soundbites, talking hyperbole, and coming up with ridiculous metaphors to snipe at each other. The voters are tired of that crap. Best way to end it is not vote for them. If people want change, then make the change, don’t just moan about it. It’s why 12 months ago I came up with the slogan Don’t Moan for Change, Vote for Change.
How are you getting your name out there and do you have a campaign team?
Kind of a team. A few very close friends that I bounce some ideas off. But I think it’s important that the voters see and hear the real me – not what a campaign team has told me to say, or told me how to act. That’s fake. If you have to hire ‘professionals’ to tell you what to do, how on earth can they be relied on to be Mayor? I do my own social media posts and responses, my own videos, write my own speeches – people are actually talking to me directly. I take input from my mates and the feedback from social media and I formulate from there.
I send press releases to mainstream news media and try to keep them informed of what my ideas and opinions are, but due to them only wanting JT and PG in their stories I get little to no coverage from them. NBR and STUFF have been ok, but the others… nothing. There’s the obligation that they will feel soon, and they’ll make small contact – and once they do – I’ll let them know my thoughts…
Social Media – mainly facebook – is my staple though. It reaches people directly, I have control over it, and the reach is fantastic. My figures are quite good for reach and interaction.
Twitter is a cesspool. I’m on it, but not pushing or focusing on it.
Road signs go up shortly, radio ads will kick in, and social media will be pushed hard.
Which side of the political spectrum do you lean toward and why?
I’m centre right. I don’t mind helping genuine people in need because that’s what decent humans do – but I also believe that people should earn what they get. Humans are greedy though aren’t they, we always want more. I’ve kept myself in check with that my whole life, I work to have a casual lifestyle not for the toys and bling – and being freelance media.. well you don’t get rich doing that. You have a good time though. But if I can pay my bills and feed the family I’m all good. I vote National by the way.
Will you reduce Auckland City Council employees as promised prior the super city?
One of the things I’ve been vocal about is the operations and the expenses. Something isn’t adding up. There will be a lot of Council employees that will not vote for me because I’ll be going through the departments as quickly as I can to find the dead wood – and they know they are likely to be one of them.
Doesn’t mean I can fire people though – I’d only be a Mayor not a CEO or owner of a business. But even that isn’t how it’s done anymore – employment contracts and the legal aspects… well it’s going to take some nutting out with HR and the legal team.
But I’m not happy with the monthly operation costs – and we on the outside only see a little bit of it. Council has grown into a monster that needs slaying – oh no – I’ve just done one of those metaphor things.