Wellington mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan didn't move for fire truck - witnesses
There are claims Wellington mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan held up a fire truck on Friday morning because she was trying to take a photo of her supporters waving election placards.
The alleged incident happened around 7:40am at the intersection of Whitmore St and Featherston St outside the Rydges' Portlander restaurant.
Eyewitness Samuel High saw it unfold as he was walking to work, and contacted Newshub.
"I literally just saw that Jo lady hold up a fire truck in her car because she was too busy taking a photo on her phone of her supporters waving signs," he says.
The signs were similar to these
Newshub has tried repeatedly to get comment from Ms Coughlan about the alleged incident but neither she nor her team have responded.
Fire trucks do not have dash cams and the driver was unavailable for comment. Wellington City Council has also been asked to provide CCTV footage from the intersection.
Mr High says there were around six or seven supporters in total, with half of them on the Z Energy corner of the intersection, and the other half on the Investment Centre corner.
"One [fire truck] had already gone through, this was the second one, one of those massive ladder ones. Literally every car peeled out of the way but hers," he says.
Ms Coughlan's car as pictured in her campaign video
Zak Bearman and his wife also saw the incident unfold. They were travelling along Featherston St in their car and pulled up behind Ms Coughlan at the Whitmore St traffic lights.
"There was a white car in front of us, a 'Go Jo' car with all the branding all over it," says Mr Bearman.
He heard a siren behind him and saw it was a fire truck and tried to get out of the way.
"Jo just kind of sat there with her phone in her hand taking photos and smiling and waving at her crew holding the billboards," he says.
"She was there for a good 30 or 40 seconds, and this fire truck was just sitting there full noise, not doing anything because it couldn't get past," says Mr Bearman.
Watching from the footpath, Mr High thought the vehicle holding up the fire truck was an "oblivious tourist" because it was a plain white car and could have been a rental.
"But on closer inspection, the car had a 'Go Jo' sticker on the side and the driver had both hands off the wheel taking a photo on their phone of the supporters on the opposite side of the road," he says.
Mr Bearman says he managed to squeeze around Ms Coughlan's car and as he did so, he had a glimpse at her.
"She was completely oblivious to the world. Just smiling and laughing and having a great time," says Mr Bearman.
"How is she meant to run a city if she can't even get out of the way for a fire truck?"
Mr High says he also saw Ms Coughlan toot, wave, and smile to the supporters before she "blissfully continued on her way".
Newshub visited the site an hour after the alleged incident to see if Ms Coughlan or her supporters were still there, but they had since left.
Campaign cars at the site of the alleged incident
However, two supporters vehicles were there, complete with 'Go Jo' stickers.
They were being ticketed by parking wardens.