Council quest could be pointless

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013

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A Hamilton businessman's campaign to unseat city councillors looks likely to have fewer targets, with four incumbents confirming they will not stand for re-election this year.

Strategy and policy chairwoman Maria Westphal is the latest to decide not to stand, joining councillors Peter Bos, Daphne Bell and John Gower.

The only remaining unknowns are Dave Macpherson, who says he has yet to decide, and 27-year veteran Pippa Mahood, who could not be reached.

Ray Stark - who last year funded billboards demanding accountability for the city council's V8s losses - will bankroll the campaign, which he said aimed to lift voter turnout and cull entrenched councillors he says have failed to demonstrate that they can guide the city's economic fortunes.

The vacancies and the campaign to oust councillors are already drawing predictions of a fiery race and a large field of contenders for council.

Veteran local and national politician Martin Gallagher said that he was not taking his position for granted and expected a "rip-roarer" election.

Roger Hennebry, another to confirm he will stand again, said if council work looking at shifting millions of development contributions onto ratepayers progressed, he was prepared to stand for Mayor on the issue.

Macpherson said the four vacancies would see "every man and his dog" stand, and said Stark's campaign and the possible candidacy of former ACT president Garry Mallett could yet persuade him to stand again.

Stark, a Hamilton-based technology entrepreneur, has outlined plans for a billboard and social media-led campaign to unseat incumbents.

He has reacted strongly to criticism of his plans by Mr Macpherson, who accused Mr Stark of trying to use his wealth to influence the elections.

"It is about money - it's about our money he's meant to be accountable for. I think it's shameful he didn't address the issue," said Mr Stark.

"I think he's running scared because he may be out of a job. We've been shafted for too long, what are you supposed to do? You take a stand."

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- Waikato Times

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