Stakes high in local board election as outcome could affect placement of tree relative to curb

62% of Albert-Eden residents spoken to say they’re “undecided” on what the Albert-Eden Community Board is.

62% of Albert-Eden residents spoken to say they’re “undecided” on what the Albert-Eden Community Board is.

The race for Albert-Eden Community Board seat #5 is heating up in the final weeks of the campaign, as it may prove to be one of the most consequential community board elections in decades, the fate of a tree’s positioning relative to a curb hanging in the balance.

The tree, which presently sits roughly 2 metres from a curb at the intersection of Point Chevalier Road and Edith Street, has been designated for uprooting and replanting 3 metres from the same curb, after there were concerns it may eventually grow out enough to require tall passers-by to duck slightly.

But some candidates for the board – including Benjamin Lee and Godfrey Rudolph – believe the tree’s repositioning would be a waste of time and money that could be better spent on something the community could really do with, like a sign warning about the tree.

Those favouring the tree’s movement have scoffed at these arguments, saying it will “hardly cost a thing,” and “just some guy with a shovel will do it.”

Pro-movers have yet to lay out specifics of which guy, and this has those against the proposal fuming.

“They want us to trust them,” said Benjamin Lee. “They just want us to blindly trust them when they come out and say they’re going to undertake one of the biggest tasks in Albert-Eden Community Board history, and they can’t even point to one guy with one shovel who’ll, in their words, ‘just do it.’

“I mean it’s la-la-land, really, just pure fantasy. Who’s going to just do it? You couldn’t find a single guy with a shovel in all of Auckland to do a job like that.”

Lee later called to apologize for his strong use of language, saying he probably went “a bit overboard” when he said “all of Auckland.”

Local body elections expert Dr. Mike Reid said it was heated exchanges like these that were making this one of the most exciting and historic local board elections of modern times.

“This is the stuff that really gets your blood pumping,” he said. “You know, I hear it all the time, people say local body elections are boring, they don’t really matter, might as well appoint my cat, this sort of thing. But this just goes to show that’s not always the case, and local elections can have real consequences, too.

“When this election is all said and done, when the chips have fallen where they may, that tree is either going to be there, or just a little bit over there.”