Christchurch mayoral contest soon to shape up

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker

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The largest political grouping in Christchurch's local government scene says it is determined to unseat Mayor Bob Parker at this year's local body elections.

People's Choice has set up a 12-strong electoral strategy panel to oversee the selection of a mayoral candidate and to chart the course of the election campaign.

The group is represented on the Christchurch City Council by Glenn Livingstone, Jimmy Chen and Yani Johanson.

Chairman Paul McMahon said informal discussions had been held with several people and expressions of interest in the mayoralty called for.

The group wanted to announce its candidate as soon as possible but wanted to make sure it selected the right person for the job.

"We are going to pick someone who can win," said McMahon, who declined to say when the candidate selection would be made.

He said the selection panel was conscious of the need to work with mayoral aspirants outside of People's Choice if it wanted to avoid splitting the vote and giving Parker another three years in office.

Livingstone is considered the group's most likely contender for the mayoralty, but there has been speculation it could back Cr Tim Carter for the job, even though he is not part of People's Choice.

"We want to run a united campaign and are willing to work with people outside our group who are committed to change and share our goals for the future," McMahon said. "We want to make sure that we are talking to other people and not just working by ourselves."

The previous local body elections in Christchurch, held just six weeks after the September 4, 2010 earthquake, attracted the highest voter turnout since the 1990s, and McMahon said a strong turnout was likely this year.

"This is possibly the most important local body election that Christchurch has ever faced," he said. "The people of Christchurch have to decide whether they want to go with the status quo, which is divisive and dysfunctional, or whether they want something new.

"We want to run a really positive campaign focused on the future, focused on people and on rebuilding the city from the grassroots up."

If Parker can hold off challengers in October's local body election he will secure his third term as mayor.

All of Christchurch's mayors since 1974 have served at least three terms.

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- The Press

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