Marlborough mayoral candidates: John Leggett, Colin King, Brian Dawson and John Davis


Mayoral candidate John Davis.

Mayoral candidate and current Marlborough District Councillor Brian Dawson.

Mayoral candidate Colin King.

Mayoral candidate and current Marlborough District Councillor John Leggett.

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And they're off ... four nominees are running for election in Marlborough's mayoral race. 

Nominations closed on Friday, and two sitting councillors are pitted against a former MP and a project manager known as 'The Colonel'. 

Councillors John Leggett, a lawyer, and Brian Dawson, a businessman, are standing against former National MP Colin King and Harcourts project manager John Davis. 

"I think it's a really open race," Davis said. 

* Councillor Brian Dawson wants Marlborough to help lure others 
Next Marlborough mayor must come from within council - Alistair Sowman 
* Mayoral candidate John Leggett urges public to back Marlborough ASB Theatre

In October the region will have a new mayor for the first time in 12 years. 

Blenheim's controversial $23 million theatre, the council's role in property development, the region's aging population, and the need to find jobs for young people are among the topics candidates have already spoken out about. 

Leggett, head of the council's community and finance committee, said people wanted to come to Marlborough but the council had to do its bit in providing the social infrastructure to make that happen.

Already there were some strong drawcards in the form of outstanding facilities like the theatre and Stadium 2000. 

Another key issue was the combined colleges, due to start operating in 2021. 

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The council would have to play their part in the $63m development  by providing infrastructure, and there was also some "fairly significant" spending on general infrastructure around the district coming up as the population increased. 

However Dawson said earlier this year people were moving to Marlborough and finding jobs, only for their partners to struggle to find work. 

"We need to work very closely with industry," he said. 

Working closely with the wine industry was something he would like to see the council do. 

He would also like to see the council use Marlborough's lifestyle as a drawcard for people from further afield, who could "bring their own jobs with them". 

King, whose slogan was "Ambitious for Marlborough", said he also wanted to see more jobs available for young people, and was pushing for more transparency from the Marlborough District Council. 

In a statement to Fairfax King said the Stadium 2000 and theatre had made the town a more desirable place to live but they had come at a cost.

Council was also struggling with core infrastructure needs, he said in the statement.

"At the moment council is well behind, with deferments [being made] this annual plan to storm water replacements." 

Earlier this week Davis spoke out against the council developing sections itself, something which was also attacked earlier this year by Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith. 

"Council can't be the regulator and dictator. Everyone has to be on a level playing field," Davis said.  

Davis said on Saturday he believed in finding solutions, not problems, and he focused on the bigger picture.  

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the mayoral candidates, but he stood by his opinion that anyone running for mayor should have a term on the council first as an "apprenticeship".

"It's a privileged position, and you need to earn it," he said. 

The job was time-consuming but very rewarding, he said. 

Leggett said maintaining core services and economic development was at the heart of his campaign.

He was also keen to shake up the way the council's style of operating, and wanted councillors to take more responsibility than they had in the past. 

"I want to see the councillors empowered," he said. 

"I think it's important to see councillors understand the role that we have, the governance role." 

Dawson said he wanted the council to be more "lean and fit" and not spend ratepayers' money unnecessarily. 

Leggett, Dawson and King are all running for council as well as running for mayor. 

King has put himself forward in the Wairau-Awatere ward, and Dawson and Leggett are among the 15 candidates running in the Blenheim ward. 

Former mayor Gerald Hope put his name forward at the last minute on Friday for the Wairau-Awatere ward, meaning all of the Marlborough wards will go to an election. 

In total 25 candidates have put their names forward for council. 

 - The Marlborough Express


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