Mayoralty candidate accused of fourth assault

Palmerston North City Council
Palmerston North City Council

A man facing a child assault charge, two councillors, a serial candidate for political office and the Ashhurst leader of the little known DNA party are challenging incumbent Jono Naylor for the Palmerston North mayoralty.

Ross Easton Barber, 49, appeared in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday on a charge of assaulting a child, which he denies.

The matter will go to a hearing in November or December. Barber has three previous convictions for assaulting a child, which he told the Manawatu Standard he was seeking to overturn. He only admitted them as he could not afford time away from his business for the matter to go to trial.

Electoral officer John Annabell said past convictions and current criminal charges did not stop anyone from seeking election.

However, if an elected person was convicted of an offence that carried a potential penalty of imprisonment of two years or more, they would be disqualified from holding office.

Mr Barber could face a penalty not exceeding two years, so could be caught out if elected and later convicted.

Meantime, Mr Naylor faces two challenges from within the ranks of the current council.

Four-term councillor, Street Van and Shepherd's Rest co-ordinator Lew Findlay is promising an inclusive style of leadership and a focus on what he sees as the crunch issues of economic growth and job creation.

"Businesses are hurting in the town, and we need to do something."

First-term councillor Duncan McCann, who was elected by the narrowest of margins in 2010, said his priorities were smart economic growth, community groups, and protecting the environment.

"I offer Palmerston North voters an independent credible alternative that can represent a wider section of the community."

Mr Naylor said being mayor was a privilege. He had learnt not to be surprised by anything, and it was reasonable that other people had aspirations to lead the city.

"I'm committed to operating in a way that I think is inclusive to move the city forward."

He identified job security and opportunities as the big issues for voters, along with knowing community assets were being well managed with financial prudence.

The others in the running are serial candidate Grant Seton and DNA party leader Gary Philip.

A total of 33 people have been nominated for 15 council seats. City voters have the opportunity to rank them, in the first election using the single transferable vote (STV) system, and wards were abolished by the Local Government Commission earlier this year.

All but two sitting councillors are seeking re-election. They are Nikki Guy, who has stood down for family reasons, and Pat Kelly, who has opted to stand for Horizons Regional Council instead.

PALMERSTON NORTH CITY COUNCIL SEATS

The candidates: (*sitting councillor) Jan Barnett*, Susan Baty*, Rachel Bowen, Adrian Broad*, Vaughan Dennison*, Nick Eddy, Phil Etheridge, Lew Findlay*, Hayden Fitzgerald, Niki Gunning, Leonie Hapeta, Ange Hartshorne, David Ireland, Jim Jefferies*, Lorna Johnson, Russell Johnson, Marilyn Korte, Ross Linklater*, Dion Martin, Duncan McCann*, Billy Meehan*, Annette Nixon*, Elizabeth Paine, James Pettingill, Dave Poppelwell, Rihari Reiri, Aleisha Rutherford, Allen Smith, Grant Smith, Chris Teo-Sherrell*, Peter Turner, Tangi Utikere*, Bruce Wilson*. 

Manawatu Standard