Candidate with disability not fit for job, councillor says

by Conan Young, RNZ News, 29 September 2016

Joshua Perry is 24-years old, has a diploma in marketing, works as a marketing co-ordinator for an anti-violence group, and is standing for the Dunedin City Council so that “disability issues such as bad street and public transport design were given more prominence around the council table.”

A sitting councillor, Lee Vandervis, told Mr Perry that “he’s not up to the job because he has cerebral palsy.”

Councillor Lee Vandervis said he told Joshua Perry this in a private conversation following a “meet the candidates” event, and that his comments have since been used against him as part of a deliberate smear campaign.

He said he told Mr Perry he was brave for standing for council but that, if he was successful, he would not be able to carry out the job of a councillor.

“He can barely breathe or speak, he’s wheelchair-bound. To be able to make any speech he has someone hold a microphone for him, someone hold the paper in front of him and point to the words he has to say.

“All of that degree of disability means he’s simply unable to do the job of a councillor.”

Mr Vandervis, whose son is severely autistic, questioned whether the points Mr Perry made on his website and his Facebook page were even his own.

It was irresponsible for Mr Perry’s father and campaign manager to be encouraging him to stand for council, he said.

“Who would kid their own son into thinking they could be a pole vault champion if they were in a wheelchair? I mean it’s just ridiculous, is it not?

“Are you gong to say that, in your PC world, that you simply can’t accept any reality?”

Click here to read the full article and listen to the interview with Mr Vandervis.