New Plymouth mayoral candidate withdraws from debate over feeling threatened by political rival

A New Plymouth mayoral candidate withdrew from one of the final debates of his campaign after an exchange with a fellow candidate he claims felt threatened.

Controversial candidate Peter Hardgrave said he was not in attendance the Taranaki Daily News mayoral candidate debate on Friday due to an exchange with fellow candidate Murray Chong on Tuesday night.

Hardgrave has sent an email to the Taranaki Daily News on Thursday night explaining that his decision was the result of an incident that followed met the candidate event at the New Plymouth club on Tuesday.

“Myself and Joanne Kuvargi (sic) were outside the NP Club when we were approached by Murray Chong and Max Brough. They proceeded to verbally abuse myself and Joanne. My friends I was with found Murray Chong and Max Brough’s behavior offensive and threatening,” he wrote.

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He claimed the incident happened when Chong walked past him and Kurvaji and reportedly made a comment insinuating that they were part of Voices For Freedom, an anti-mandatory group that asked its members to run for the council, but their did not disclose the group’s membership.

When they later saw Chong and Brough, Hardgrave said he was intimidated by the way “they stood looking at him.”

Candidate Murray Chong has described the exchange with Hardgrave as

VANESSA LAURIE/Things

Candidate Murray Chong has described the exchange with Hardgrave as “bater”.

“Inappropriate behavior from a permanent councilor,” he said.

Brough declined to comment, saying the whole thing was “nonsense”, while Chong said he didn’t confront Hardgrave.

‘I didn’t confront him. It was just a bit of chatter.”

Kurvaji was with Hardgrave when the alleged discussion backfired.

This wasn’t her first election campaign, but this time it’s very different, she said.

“Last time there was mutual respect between individual candidates. This time, some candidates ignore the views and values ​​of other people and come across in a negative and aggressive way.”

Candidates show no integrity, she said.

Hardgrave’s absence left the debate with just six candidates after Shaun Clare’s invitation to participate was withdrawn following threatening social media posts addressed to a Taranaki Daily News photojournalist.

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