Call for diverse election candidates

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Calling all candidates for community boards, councillors and the mayoralty in Waitaki.

Waitaki District Council chief executive Fergus Power is encouraging people from different communities, genders and age groups in the district to get involved in local politics and stand in this year’s local body elections.

“The emphasis this year is on diversity,” Mr Power said.

“Diversity in the range of ethnicity, age, gender and life experience of candidates.”

Nationally, there has been a push for councils to encourage elected representation that better reflects the nature of each district’s changing demographics.

“Seeking election to public office [is] understandably a daunting prospect, which is why council is ensuring that the process is made easier for prospective candidates,” Mr Power said.

“I’m available to meet those thinking of standing for council at any time, evenings and weekends included, to answer any questions that people thinking of standing may have.”

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher has confirmed he will seek another term as mayor and, at this stage, no-one has declared they will stand against him.

There will be at least three vacancies for council, with Peter Garvan, Hugh Perkins (Oamaru ward) and Craig Dawson (Ahuriri ward) confirming they will not be seeking re-election this year.

Earlier this week, Crs Melanie Tavendale, Colin Wollstein, Jim Hopkins and Jeremy Holding confirmed they would stand for the Oamaru ward again this year, as did Bill Kingan and Guy Percival for the Corriedale ward. Waihemo ward Cr Jan Wheeler is also seeking re-election.

Queenstown Lakes district councillor Ross McRobie, who is moving to Otematata, has signalled his intention to stand as a councillor for the Ahuriri ward.

University of Otago lecturer, and Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group president, Hana Halalele has also expressed an interest in standing for the Oamaru ward, to be a voice for the town’s growing Pasifika community.

Waitaki District Council communications staff are taking a caravan on a tour of the district next week, from June 24 to 30, to help answer questions members of the public may have about standing as a candidate in this year’s election, help members of the public check if they are enrolled to vote and encourage greater voter participation.

In 2016, just 49.8% of Waitaki voters voted, compared with 57.3% in 2013.

At the time, Mr Kircher said he believed the drop in voter turnout was probably due to the number of seats that were filled without an election required.

Craig Dawson was elected unopposed to the Ahuriri ward, as were incumbent councillors Bill Kingan and Guy Percival in the Corriedale ward.

In the Oamaru ward, 12 candidates were nominated for the six council seats. Incumbents Crs Melanie Tavendale (4170), Colin Wollstein (3162), Hugh Perkins (3156), Jim Hopkins (2937) and Peter Garvan (2442) were re-elected – and were joined by first-time councillor Jeremy Holding (2349).

Jan Wheeler (483) won a three-person race for the Waihemo ward.

Finishing outside the top six vote for the Oamaru ward were Lucianne White (2306), Barry Monks (1730), Sophia Leon de la Barra (1578), Richard Vinbrux (922), Glen Perham (643) and Wee Jock Howie (615).

It was a two-horse race for the Waitaki mayoralty – Mr Kircher’s (6787) sole challenger was Stephen Wesselingh (901), of Palmerston.

Nominations for the 2019 local government elections open on July 19 and close on August 16.

Voting will close on October 12.

For more details on the 2019 local body elections, visit: www.waitaki.govt.nz/ourcouncil/elections.

In Waitaki, elections are held for the following positions:

★ Mayor

★ One councillor to represent the Ahuriri Ward

★ Two councillors to represent the Corriedale Ward

★ Six councillors to represent the Oamaru Ward

★ One councillor to represent the Waihemo Ward

★ Five members to represent the Ahuriri Community Board

★ Five members to represent the Waihemo Community Board

★ Five members to represent the Oamaru Licensing Trust

★ One member to represent the Moeraki Constituency of the Otago Regional Council

★ Two members to represent the South Canterbury Constituency of the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan)

★ Four members to represent the Otago Constituency of the Southern District Health Board