Christmas by-election if mayor becomes MP

Palmerston North could face a Christmas-time by-election for the mayoralty.

Mayor Jono Naylor plans to stay on in the job until or unless he is confirmed as the city's next member of Parliament.

If successful, he said he would resign from the mayoralty, triggering the need for a by-election. But he said he would have to give a lot of thought to the timing of his resignation.

The results of the September 20 election do not become official until October 4.

Electoral officer John Annabell said a by-election would have to be held within 80 days of receiving the resignation of any elected member.

That would see city residents casting their votes close to Christmas. The alternative would be for Naylor to delay his resignation to allow campaigning for his replacement to begin in the New Year, the option chosen by Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie when he gave up the Manawatu mayoralty for Parliament in 2011.

Naylor acknowledged there was potential for conflict as he campaigned while still working as mayor, but that was little different to continuing as mayor while seeking re-election to the role.

"I will manage that."

City councillor Lew Findlay, who challenged for the mayoralty last year, said he had not had time to consider whether he would try again if Naylor resigned.

"I'm not surprised in the slightest that he is standing, and ratepayers will pay him while he is campaigning, and possibly for the cost of a by-election as well."

Former unsuccessful Palmerston North National candidate Leonie Hapeta, elected to the council last October, said the mayor was an experienced campaigner and would get a great deal of support from the party.

She would not comment on whether she had any aspirations to contest the mayoralty.

Manawatu Standard