Wellington finally has a mayoral race.
Businessman Jack Yan has announced he will stand for this year's local body election, challenging incumbent Celia Wade-Brown.
He is the first to throw his hat into the ring in what has been a slow buildup to October's election - by this time in 2010 there were already four declared mayoral candidates.
Mr Yan finished third then, with 7426 votes (12 per cent) against Ms Wade-Brown's 24,881.
Six months out from this year's election, councillor Jo Coughlan and concert promoter Phil Sprey have also indicated they may stand.
Mr Sprey said yesterday that he would make a call mid-next week, but he was "leaning probably more towards yes than no". Ms Coughlan said she was still "considering her options", including standing for mayor, but she would not indicate a time frame for making a decision.
Massey University associate professor and local government specialist Christine Cheyne said it was in the best interest of candidates to declare early.
"With mayoralties in particular . . . it would be strategic to declare your candidacy as early as possible, because you want it known that you're going to be in the race and you'll be using any opportunity to associate your campaign to developments in the news."
Mayoralties were increasingly relevant, especially with the creation of the Auckland super-city, and campaigns were becoming increasingly "presidential" in style, with more of a focus on personality.
Mr Yan officially launches his campaign today, and said he would campaign for "growing our economy, keeping a lid on our rates and uniting Wellingtonians".
Around the Wellington region incumbent mayors are also seeing a lack of competition.
Both Upper Hutt's Wayne Guppy and Lower Hutt's Ray Wallace are standing again, and no-one has stepped forward to challenge either.
Meanwhile, in Porirua Nick Leggett will be challenged by Brian Collins who placed seventh out of nine last election, with 489 votes. Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan is being challenged by Gavin Welsh, a farrier who was once in the Household Cavalry.
In Wairarapa all three incumbents - Ron Mark, Adrienne Staples and Garry Daniell - are standing again but all concede they are looking to the creation of a single unitary authority for Wairarapa.
Further afield, Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule is standing for the position for a fifth term and will be challenged for the third time by councillor Simon Nixon.
Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott will not be drawn on whether she will stand, but councillor Michelle Pyke says she will - provided Mrs Arnott does not.
"We need an experienced hand to deal with the amalgamation issue."
Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler will stand for a second term but long-standing Wairoa Mayor Les Probert says he "probably won't" stand for a fifth term. Deputy Mayor Denise Eaglesome, who many saw as a likely candidate, says she will not stand but one-term councillor Craig Little is taking a tilt.
In Palmerston North, incumbent Jono Naylor is being challenged by Lew Findlay.
- The Dominion Post
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