New-look council makes for interesting election
RHONDA MARK, AL WILLIAMS, MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD AND EMMA BAILEY
Interesting. That's possibly the best way to describe the Timaru District Council election this time around.
For starters, the district will have a new mayor - something which was not a realistic outcome in the last two elections when three-term mayor Janie Annear finished comfortably ahead of her closest rival. After nine years as mayor and 18 on council, she is hanging up the mayoral chain.
Both this year's mayoral contenders Steve Earnshaw and Damon Odey are completing their first terms on council - Mr Earnshaw arriving at the council doors as part of Team Timaru, while Mr Odey came in as an independent. They were the two highest polling candidates of the 19 who stood for the council's Timaru ward.
While Team Timaru is no more, Mr Earnshaw and fellow Team Timaru member Tracy Tierney are standing under the Access 2 Action banner. The pair have been campaigning together with Mr Earnshaw stating Ms Tierney will be deputy mayor if they are both elected.
Both mayoral candidates are also standing for the Timaru ward.
All up 11 candidates are keen to fill the six Timaru ward seats. With Terry Kennedy and Jane Coughlan both standing down after 21 years, there are spaces to fill. Also not seeking re-election are first term councillors Hamish Fraser and Jo Taylor.
Former councillor Dave Jack, who missed out on a seat three years ago, is back in the race for the Timaru ward, along with Anthony Brien, Peter Burt, Wayne Facer, Roger Payne, James Valentine, Steve Wills and Heather Woolstencroft.
Deprived of a vote when only sitting councillors Richard Lyon and Pat Mulvey stood for the two Pleasant Point-Temuka ward positions last time, it is a different story this year, with two new contenders also keen to represent the area. Gerrie Ligtenberg and Tony Narayan will contest the ward along with the two sitting councillors.
Elected unopposed is Geraldine ward councillor Kerry Stevens. Mr Stevens was elected to council in a by-election last November. Four men sought the position following the death of Geraldine ward representative and deputy mayor Michael Oliver.
CHALLENGES FOR NEW TEAM
A new look Waimate District Council will have its work cut out for it with the ongoing Williams building consent saga.
The battle between the council and businessman Keith Williams will present numerous challenges as Mayor John Coles and four councillors bow out in October.
Councillors Mike Balchin, Peter Foley, Matt Henderson and Jim Anderson are not seeking re-election.
Councillor Sandy Mulqueen left a seat empty when she lost a bid for cannabis decriminalisation in the district last year and quit.
The long-running Williams dispute goes back to 2010 and has divided the council.
First term councillor Sharyn Cain and Cr Craig Rowley want the mayoral chains, although Cr Rowley has not also sought a council seat. If he misses out on the mayoralty he misses out altogether.
Deputy mayor Peter McIlraith is also closely involved in the consent case, having along with Cr Rowley, sworn an affavit in defence of Mr Williams.
Cr McIlraith faces John Wall for the one-seat Hakataramea-Waihaorunga ward.
Mr Wall is in a de facto relationship with former building inspector Angie Leckey who was at the centre of the consent row.
Former mayor David Owen is seeking one of two seats in the Pareora ward, along with Tom O'Connor, Stuart Thomson and Morgan Wallace
Grace Paul is the only person to put a hand up for a seat representing the Lower Waihao ward. In the Waimate ward, Sharyn Cain, James Beuth, Peter Collins, William Fletcher, Arthur Gavegan, John Larcombe and Miriam Morton will compete for four seats.
KEY ISSUES FOR MACKENZIE NEXT TERM
It is a two-horse race for the mayoralty of the Mackenzie District Council, with no Twizel candidates to split the vote.
Councillor Graeme Page and incumbent mayor Claire Barlow have thrown their hats in the ring. Both represent the Opuha ward, while Twizel which is the biggest town in the district is without a mayoral candidate.
Both are vying for the top job only and not one of the six councillor seats, so one will go entirely. Two other councillors will be lost from the council chamber with Peter Maxwell and John Bishop not standing.
Mr Bishop will however be standing for the Twizel Community Board.
For third generation farmer Mr Page it will be his second tilt at the mayoralty, having stood against Mrs Barlow in 2010, losing by just 30 votes. He has been on the council since 2004 and has been an interesting presence in council meetings, especially over the last three years as he has been robust in his criticisms, most notably of the now disbanded tourism trust.
If he is unsuccessful as mayor the council will lose a distinctive voice.
In 2010 Mrs Barlow went from the council's receptionist to mayor.
She lives in Fairlie and while the mayoralty could be seen as town versus country, she is not beholden to either and has constantly stressed she sees herself as a uniter.
She started with an element of naivety and nervousness but has, with the help of a new chief executive, run an increasingly tight ship at meetings, with councillors more likely to stay on track rather than get bogged down in unnecessary asides.
The council will face a range of key issues over the next three years, the Aoraki Mt Cook Starlight Reserve and Alps to Ocean Cycleway will be key drivers for tourism. Finalising plan change 13, which is still tied up in the Environment Court, will set the scene for the future of the Mackenzie Basin and development in Tekapo will arguably be one of the biggest time consumers for the council over the next few years.
- © Fairfax NZ News