Councillor, estate agent and former MP considering Marlborough mayoralty

Former Kaikoura MP Colin King says he will decide soon if he is running for mayor.

Former Kaikoura MP Colin King says he will decide soon if he is running for mayor.

A senior Marlborough councillor says he is leaning towards running for mayor.

Councillor John Leggett, a two-term Blenheim councillor, said it was an appealing option.

"At this stage I am leaning towards having a crack at it. Crikey, at 60 [years-old] you have to have a few targets.

Blenheim councillor John Leggett is considering running for mayor.

Blenheim councillor John Leggett is considering running for mayor.

"As a two term councillor I want to keep moving up."

Last week, Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the next mayor should have local government experience and a rank outsider would find the job difficult.

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Blenheim estate agent Tim Crawford.

Blenheim estate agent Tim Crawford.

An online poll found 67 per cent of people said you did not need council experience to run for mayor.

Leggett said he agreed with Sowman.

"An outsider could do it but it would be a steep learning curve.

"I have a lot of time and respect for Alistair Sowman. It's a really difficult job. There is a lot of pressure on you, media coverage and people that use social media to comment. He has done an outstanding job.

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"I would carry on some of the work and reputation he has developed."

Leggett said he had Sowman's support to run for mayor.

He would make his decision in the next couple of weeks.

"I am getting a few people asking me to make a decision, get out there and make myself known. I am not a great marketer of myself. I find that part of council elections not easy."

Leggett was a partner in law firm Wisheart Macnab and Partners

"My key strength is I get on with people. I have a good relationship with all the councillors. Not all of them agree with me but there is nothing wrong with that."

Leggett said he was more concerned about core council business.

"When you hear that we spent one hour talking about whether we should have a Christmas tree. A large portion of people think its a waste of money. To me it is the bigger picture stuff that's important. We have an operating budget of $109 million. To me that's where we should be spending time, dealing with that detail."

Council meetings needed more robust discussion, he said.

"The chamber is the debating chamber and you should be laying your cards on the table.

"I don't take things personally. Operating a legal practice, you stand your ground and make your point. I have no reason to change that."

Former Kaikoura MP Colin King said the mayoralty race could become "quite incestuous" if only existing councillors ran.

"We need refreshment."

But the council was "determined to keep the status quo" with internal mayoral candidates, he said.

"If Christchurch had that attitude we wouldn't have had Lianne Dalziel or Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick.

"There is a standing line adopted by the present council. If that was interrupted there would be one or two disappointed people around."

The next mayor, whether they had council experience or not, needed to be financially prudent to keep rising rates down, King said.

King would run as councillor in the Wairau/Awatere ward but had not decided if he would try for the mayoralty.

"The biggest problem with council is it stifles discussion. They are hung up on process around their standing orders that tend to gag people rather than promote freedom of speech."

Bayleys real estate agent Tim Crawford said he had not decided if he would run.

"It's early days, there are a couple of things to sort out."

Crawford was going to talk to his family during a holiday before he made his decision.

"It's a bit early to be making comment but it's not far away."

Crawford disagreed that a person without council experience could not run for mayor.

"You only have to look what's happening in the council's management, it's time for a little outside input."

Crawford was involved in a range of community roles including raising money to preserve the Edwin Fox, president of Garden Marlborough, a director of Marlborough Winegrowers and organising the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

Local government elections will be held on October 8. 

 - The Marlborough Express


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