New Plymouth looks to have a true mayoral race on its hands, with challenger Andrew Judd edging ahead of incumbent Harry Duynhoven in a poll taken this week.
In the random telephone survey of 477 New Plymouth voters, 20 per cent supported Mr Duynhoven, while his main challenger, businessman and current councillor Andrew Judd, secured 23 per cent.
The poll indicated Hamilton-born businessman Craig Percy and local man Chris Wilkes, who is standing on an environmental platform, were outsiders in the race, with two per cent and one per cent of support respectively.
But it's early days and 53 per cent of those who took part in the Taranaki Daily News poll were either undecided or ambivalent about the election.
In 2010's crowded race of eight challengers, former Labour MP Mr Duynhoven won the chains with just 33 per cent of the 30,000 mayoral votes. His nearest challenger was Pauline Lockett, who secured 8354 votes. The majority of the rest were shared between businessman John Rae and councillor John McLeod.
With just four in the race this time, and it already looking like a two-horse race, Mr Duynhoven will need to convince some of the 20,000 who didn't vote for him last time to give him a go. Some comments show voters aren't sure if he has done enough in the last three years to deserve another term.
"I've always been quite supportive of Harry in the past, but this election I'm just not sure.
"I don't know who I am going to vote for yet, but I will certainly look at all the candidates carefully before I decide," one woman said in the anonymous poll.
Another New Plymouth woman was adamant the current mayor would not be getting her vote. "Not bloody Harry done-nothing," she said.
It was not all bad news for Mr Duynhoven, however.
A Strandon man believed the Mayor deserved another shot.
"Harry, he's experienced, and despite his party background, he doesn't seem to be ideologically driven," he said
Supporters of Mr Judd were keen on a fresh face at the head of council, and liked his business background. Mr Judd owns an optician's business and, like the mayor, is on the council's investments sub-committee.
"He's progressive, youthful and a businessman, what more do you want? He's got less baggage and isn't tainted by central government," said a Spotswood man.
His view was echoed by a New Plymouth woman. "I'm for Judd. He seems quite astute and on the ball," she said.
And while he's lived in Taranaki just one year, Mr Piercy's business credentials also impressed some.
"He's an outsider coming in with fresh ideas with a business background," said a New Plymouth man.
Ballot papers will be delivered between September 20 and 25 and voting in this year's local body elections closes at midday on Saturday October 12.
The poll had a 70 per cent response rate and a margin of error of 4.47 per cent.
Susan Strongman is a Witt journalism student. Additional reporting: Jess Howatson, Sharyn Smart, Jenna Houghton, Tara Shaskey, Jasmine O'Sullivan and Olivia Hofman
- © Fairfax NZ News
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