By-election candidates vie for councillor positions

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With two fewer seats in the council since its own councillors turned against the party, the DA is hoping to win upcoming by-elections in Nelson Mandela Bay to strengthen its numbers in council after being unceremoniously voted out in August 2018.The ANC, DA, ACDP, Patriotic Alliance and newcomer the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) are all vying for the councillor positions in the Ward 35 and Ward 37 by-elections on Wednesday.Wards 35 and 37 were previously led by Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins respectively.Their membership was terminated by the DA for turning against the party and siding with the present coalition government.The DA had 57 seats in the council but, because of the vacancies, is down to 55.Its own councillor, Victor Manyati, has turned against his party and is now voting with the opposition.The ANC, UDM, AIC and United Front coalition has a combined 54 seats but often receives support from the EFF, which has six seats in council.Meanwhile, party candidates have promised to fight crime, make the streets safe for children and address issues such as illegal dumping.ANC candidate Gary van Niekerk, 46 – contesting in Ward 35 from Bloemendal – said he had been looking at crime in the area and, when he read in the newspaper about four young victims shot execution-style in Bethelsdorp, he decided to take a stand.“The youngest in that shooting was eight years old.“My son had turned six years old and I turned and looked at him and thought, who would want to kill him?“I’ve also got a 21-year-old boy and I need to make sure he’s in a safe environment,” Van Niekerk said.SRWP Ward 37 candidate Bevlin Minish, 53, said she wanted to honour the commitment she had made to people by returning their integrity, lost hope and dignity.“I want to tackle crime, housing and bring back school sport. I want to bring back change in the area,” she said.Former DA PR councillor Brian Kivedo, 65, is now contesting on behalf of the SRWP in Ward 35.Kivedo was a councillor for the DA between 2011 and 2016 but resigned – one of seven DA councillors in 2016 accused of defecting to the ANC ahead of the municipal elections.“When I was with the DA I was named best councillor by the municipality and I believe I can make a difference.“I want to address the crime in the area and also the moral decay of our people,” he said.Patriotic Alliance councillor candidate David Petersen, 56, contesting in Ward 35, said the biggest problem was the youth, who saw drugs as a way out.“I want to show the youth that they can use sports as a way out instead of idolising gangsters,” Petersen said.DA candidate Helga van Staden, 44, who is contesting Ward 35, said she wanted to address long-standing issues such as the dumping site and illegal dumping in the area.“My long-term plan is igniting the Van der Kempskloof reserve [Cleary Estate] which will create jobs and put the northern areas on the map,” Van Staden said.ACDP candidate Yolanda van Sensie, 46, said she wanted to improve the standard of living of all who live in Ward 35.“I want to upgrade and develop all parks, develop sports fields, clear illegal dumping hotspots and develop a footbridge behind Chatty Clinic,” Sensie said.John Stone, contesting in Ward 37 for the ACDP, said he was passionate about serving the people in his ward.“I want to develop and upgrade parks and open spaces, set up traffic calming measures on busy taxi routes, tar all gravel roads and instal CCTV cameras in high crime areas.”

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