Familton handing over mayoral chain

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The position of mayor for the Waitaki District Council will not be contested by incumbent Alex Familton.

Mr Familton announced yesterday that he and the mayoress, Heather, would be retiring in October after serving two terms in office.

“We leave on top of our tasks, with sadness, but thankful for the opportunity to work, in depth, with the community,” he said.

“Our community has been very supportive and we have thrown our heart and soul, with all the other volunteers, into so many projects.

“We will miss the positive energy that has been generated by these projects.”

Mr Familton said he had been preparing for some months to achieve a clear desk, see projects under way and finances prudently placed with sustainable rate increases in the 10 Year Plan and debt at a minimum.

“I am confident that, by October, my desk will be clear and projects will be rolling,” he said.

“The next mayor will have a stable and established platform to operate from.

“We have all worked hard to get to this point: council, community, council and officers.”

Mr Familton paid tribute to his wife, Heather, saying her support had “been absolutely invaluable”.

Waitaki Ratepayers and Concerned Citizens chairman Warren Crawford paid tribute to Mr Familton.

“I am disappointed to hear he is standing down after two terms as mayor,” Mr Crawford said.

“He has done a sterling job, particularly in his endeavours to get the Oamaru Court House reassessed and reopened and it will be interesting to see who stands for the position.”

Deputy Mayor Jim Hopkins said Mr Familton went out “on top” after a great six years of achievement.

“He has made a huge contribution during his time as mayor and has served Oamaru and the Waitaki very well in some tough times,” Mr Hopkins said. “He and Heather are a great team.”

Asked whether he would stand for the mayoralty, Mr Hopkins said “instinct is [that] I will stand”.

“I am heartened by all the encouragement and support I have received since the announcement was made. However, if I stand for the mayoralty, I will not be standing as councillor.

“Oamaru is my home; I am committed to the area, I chose to live here and moved to Oamaru and the Waitaki more than 10 years ago.”

Mr Hopkins will confirm his intentions early next week.

To date, only one candidate, former councillor Gary Kircher, who stood against Mr Familton in the last election, is a definite starter.

“I am expecting one or two others to come through now Mayor Familton has announced he is not restanding,” he said.

“I believe I can offer something different if I am elected; every mayor has a different slant on things.

“If I am elected, I will be very focused on the mayoralty and will be giving up some areas of current involvement. My wife, Kerry, and I, wish Alex and Heather all the very best for the future.”

By Jacquie Webby