Christchurch City councillor Raf Manji missing meetings in lead up to national elections

Christchurch City councillor Raf Manji, an independent candidate for the Ilam electorate, will miss several full council ...
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Christchurch City councillor Raf Manji, an independent candidate for the Ilam electorate, will miss several full council and committee meetings before the election.

Ilam electorate candidate Raf Manji will miss several council meetings in the lead up to this year's election.

Councillor Manji is standing as an independent candidate in the Ilam electorate and launched his campaign late last month.

The Waimairi ward representative has been absent from the last two full council meetings and the last Finance and Performance Committee meeting, which he normally chairs.

Chriscthurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she's accepted Manji will miss some meetings ahead of the election.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

Chriscthurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she's accepted Manji will miss some meetings ahead of the election.

He said he was likely to miss "three council meetings and two finance committee meetings" in total before the election on September 23.

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Manji said he asked staff how to handle the situation so there was no "sense of conflict" between his council role and his election campaign.

"I don't mean conflict in terms of specific items that come on the council agenda," he said.

"I see people do it all the time where they use a public platform to make points.

"I've never done that . . . but it's quite an important point for me because I could – I could get up and talk about all kinds of things and I just want to make sure that is not something that could be levelled at me.

"I often see national level politicians somehow use the offices that they've got to promote themselves, so I want to be really clear that my council role's my council role [and] the campaign is very different."

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Manji could not vote on council matters if he did not attend meetings.

He had decided to donate half of his remuneration for the period of absence to the mayor's welfare fund or the innovation fund.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel had spoken to Manji about missing meetings.

"He's running for Parliament at the moment. There's no obligation for him to step down during that period, but he felt that it was appropriate that he not attend the high-profile meetings during the course of the election campaign and I've accepted that.

"We had a long discussion and he and I agreed that it wasn't appropriate," Dalziel said.

She had also spoken to Manji about whether he wanted to take a leave of absence.

"But nobody thought that was a good idea because there is a lot of work to be done.

"He's still doing a lot of background work on the long-term plan; he is the chair of Finance and Performance [Committee]," Dalziel said.

If Manji was running for central government and was an employee of a government department he would have had to step down completely, she said.

"There are legal requirements in terms of contractual obligations where you have to step down if you're running – that doesn't apply to people who are already elected and it doesn't apply in the crossover."

Manji said he would still attend some meetings before the election.

Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner was chairman of the Finance and Performance Committee in the meantime.

"That doesn't mean I won't attend the next finance committee meeting, it probably depends what's on the agenda and the same for the council meetings; I missed the last two, I'll be attending the next two," Manji said.

He would also attend a Strategic Capability Committee meeting next week.

Nelson City councillor Matt Lawrey, who is standing for the Green Party at the election, said he was "absolutely" attending council and committee meetings while campaigning.

Lawrey said his fellow councillor, Kate Fulton, the Green Party's West Coast-Tasman candidate, was also continuing with her council duties.

 - Stuff

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