The race for the Palmerston North mayoralty is on.
Four-term councillor and Street Van co-ordinator Lew Findlay has laid down a challenge to incumbent Jono Naylor, pledging to be an inclusive, people-focused leader.
And Mr Naylor has confirmed, eight months out from October's elections, that he will be seeking a third term, citing job growth, city image and building community spirit among his aspirations.
Cr Findlay, with a track record of community work, said he had been surprised by the variety of people encouraging him to stand.
"They want the mayor to be seen to be inclusive and dedicated to the city fulltime, to be out there in public."
He said with his grassroots involvement in the city, he was that sort of person.
As well as having some "well-skilled councillors and brilliant staff", the city had many people in the community with intelligence and ideas that the council should harness more effectively, he said.
The youth council, Bio Commerce Centre, and ethnic council were among those resources, and he also wanted to see a low-income group and older persons' forum revived.
Mr Naylor said he felt proud and privileged to be mayor. He said the city was making good progress under his watch and that he still had something to offer.
"It's been 5 years, and people have a reasonable idea what I stand for, and my hope is that people will continue to support that."
Both talked about Palmerston North being a great place to live, and the importance of improving its image. They support the revamping of the Esplanade aviaries as a rehabilitation facility for Massey's Wildbase, and count economic development among their priorities.
Both were elected to the council in "the class of 2001", when six new councillors won seats.
Mr Naylor said it would be up to voters to judge their relative experience, aspirations and capability.
Cr Findlay chairs the council's community wellbeing committee, which continues in its role despite the Government removing "the four wellbeings" from the legal purpose of local government.
He said his would be a low-budget campaign relying on word-of-mouth support, and he was standing to win.
The team at low-cost housing provider Shepherd's Rest and public safety service Street Van could run those operations without him and, with his children grown up, he had more time to devote to "putting Palmerston North first".
Cr Findlay said he would stand for council, as well as for mayor.
"There has to be someone on council who stands up for the little people, as well as the big people."
Mr Naylor is going for mayor or nothing. He said that if he was re-elected, and Cr Findlay was on the council, they could work together.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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