Mayoral candidate Aaron Keown is a familiar face to many Christchurch people, having stood for mayoralty at the 2004 local body elections. Three years ago he came in second to Garry Moore ? this October he is aiming to go all the way. The Star asks the 36-year-old entertainer why he is standing and on what issues and whether he thinks being up against high profile candidate Bob Parker and 2021's candidate Dr Megan Woods will make it too tough to come out on top.
# Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Christchurch and grew up here in the neighbourhood of Woolston. I currently live in Shirley. Yeah, I'm one-eyed, I once entered a sketch of Andrew Mehrtens for the phone book cover competition, shame it didn't win ? it turned out to be the year he left. It now hangs at the Lone Star Caf? and Bar.
# Why are you standing for mayoralty in the October local body elections?
Because I don't see a candidate standing who is truly addressing the main issues currently facing our city nor do any appear to have a plan for the future. Christchurch is expected to reach 500,000 by the year 2021 and we are still playing catch-up on the city's infrastructure, yet our rates are rising at over double the rate of inflation. We are not getting a good return for our spend and that has to change and under my mayoralty it will.
# What are the key issues you are campaigning on and why?
The council are currently ignoring the key council business of roads, rubbish, water and sewage. All of these vitally important services are suffering and we need to think and work smarter and faster or else we will suffer the consequences. I am out to deliver world class services while keeping the rates down at the same time. ie: I am proposing a Refuse to Energy power station that will save the city over 30 million dollars per year as well as produce enough electricity for 30,000 homes. Currently we put 300,000 tonnes of rubbish in the ground and bury it, this is expensive and an environmental disaster. Under my mayoralty Christchurch will see a lot of changes for the better.
# Have you ever been involved in local body politics in any capacity ie. on a community board/as a councillor?
No, and I believe this to be a good thing as under the current system we constantly hear about all the red tape and how things can't be done. There will be a red tape burning when I get in there and we will bring back the good old Kiwi can do attitude.
# If not, do you think it will hinder your chances at becoming mayor?
No. The only thing that will stop me becoming mayor this year will be if people don't get educated on the issues and see what I will do for our city. Unfortunately, some people are happy with the rates going up and up for no return and then get fooled into a celebrity race for the mayor's job instead of an issue race.
# You stood for mayoralty in the 2004 local body elections and came in second after Garry Moore with around 11,000 votes. Although he is not standing again, do you think 2021's candidate Dr Megan Woods and former Banks Peninsula mayor Bob Parker will be tough competition?
They are huge competition but the voters of Christchurch will decide. If they vote celebrity Bob will win, if they vote party Megan will win ? but if they vote on policy and solutions I will win. I have polled very highly on Newstalk ZB, I believe their listeners a very informed people.
# Do you have an election campaign organised and what will it involve?
I am constantly out campaigning but I don't have the huge financial backing of the others so I will have to work a lot smarter ? a point not lost on a lot of voters who know that its that Kiwi ingenuity that I will bring to the council table.
# Tell us a bit about your working background and what you do now?
In the past I was a hairdresser by trade as well as working in construction. I have done modelling work since I was 21 but as I've got older and balder, they've stopped calling. I now work in entertainment, I sing with the Fab 3 and The Wobbles, I tour New Zealand as a stand up comic as well as Bjorn in the N.Z ABBA show. I also host a weekly quiz night and karaoke night at Kaiapoi's The Mak bar. And I have my first feature film Pop due out on DVD on July 4.
# Tell us a bit about your family.
I am married to a sensational person, wife and friend Sophie and we have an amazing two-year-old daughter Lucy. Becoming a father was the greatest thing to ever happen to me. We also have a dog Sammy and a goat Trevor.
# How do you like to relax?
I like to do research either for something I'm working on or something I would like to work on. I find problem solving relaxing, so I like to think all the time.
# What is your favourite movie and why? The Castle. It is the funniest film ever made and the production story is an inspiration in itself, kind of like the script. Some friends and I are currently working on a script in the same genre, its very funny. We want to shoot it in either Christchurch or Dunedin.
# What is the best piece of advice you ever received and who was it from?
A friend of the family and one of my childhood heroes Grahame Richards once told me if I ever tried drugs he would give me the hiding of my life. I believed him, he was truly cool, so I always believed the truly cool people in the world never tried drugs. Twenty-five years later I still believe him.
# Last words?
The voters of Christchurch need to get educated. Just because it's always been a certain way doesn't mean it always has to be. There are some really great people who run for council, get out and find out who they are and let's make some real changes.