Campaigners set their sights on council seats

Campaigner Cantabrians are setting their sights on securing Christchurch City Council seats in October's local body elections.

Less than six months out from the elections the line-up for the mayoralty race in Christchurch may still be up in the air but the field for city council seats is starting to take shape.

And many of those putting up their hand have been vocal players in the city's post-quake recovery.

Public relations consultant and former broadcaster Ali Jones is among those who have told The Press they are seriously considering standing for the council.

"I think the council needs to look at things a bit more differently than it has and it needs some fresh blood in there to do that," Jones, who has been a vocal member of the TC3 lobby group, said yesterday.

"I think I have something to offer - I want to make a difference."

Jones said that before she committed to standing though she wanted to talk to some councillors about how they managed to juggle the job with family life.

"I'm not frightened of putting time in but I don't want I don't want it (the job) to impact negatively on the family."

Asked which ward she was likely to stand in, Jones said it would either be Shirley-Papanui, where the family lived before the quakes, or Fendalton-Waimairi, where they were living now.

Restore Christchurch Cathedral spokesman Mark Belton is also seriously considering putting his hand up for a seat.

The businessman and forest ecologist who lives in Governors Bay said he had watched the council over the past few years with increasing dismay .

"There are many areas where I think I can make useful contributions - not just cathedrals," said Belton, who would stand as in independent in the Banks Peninsula ward, where incumbent councillor Claudia Reid is standing down for health reasons.

Rebuild Christchurch founder Deon Swiggs said yesterday he too was contemplating running.

"I"ve not quite made up my mind... there's a lot to consider," Swiggs said.

David East, who has campaigned for a water park in New Brighton, said he would definitely stand for the council in the Burwood-Pegasus ward, where he is already a community board member.

He was the second-highest-polling candidate in the by-election that propelled Peter Beck into office last year and is "optimistic" of securing a council seat this time round.

"I think I've got a lot to offer," East said.

Wider Earthquake Communities' Action Network (WeCan) spokesman Mike Coleman told The Press he had thought about standing for the council in the east, but had decided he needed to be "out in the community".

Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson, who is a Riccarton-Wigram Community Board member, has been under pressure to stand for the council, but, like Coleman, has ruled it out.

Meanwhile, Spreydon-Heathcote councillor Sue Wells, who earlier this year was non-committal about whether she would seek re-election, has confirmed she will seek a sixth term.

For the past 15 years Cr Barry Corbett has represented Spreydon-Heathcote along with Wells, but he is standing down.

People's Choice, the left-leaning political grouping on the council, is putting up two strong candidates as potential replacements - Phil Clearwater and Karolin Potter. Clearwater has chaired the Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board for the past nine years, and Potter is a board member.

Fendalton-Waimairi ward councillor Sally Buck, who like Wells and Corbett was first elected in 1998, is still undecided about her political future.

The Press