Who should be mayor? Many voters undecided

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A recent phone poll revealed that 64 per cent of respondents had not yet decided who they would vote for in the mayoral election.

The poll encompassed 267 Waitaki voters and was conducted by the Oamaru Mail late last week.

Seven candidates have lined up for the position; two existing councillors, including the current deputy mayor; one former deputy mayor and councillor; and, four new faces.

The Oamaru Mail poll puts deputy mayor Jim Hopkins in the lead, with 13 per cent of respondents saying they would vote for him. Gary Kircher came second with 12 per cent, followed by David Wilson (4.5 per cent), Greg Smith (2.6 per cent), Helen Stead (1.5 per cent), Eric Spittal (1 per cent), and Fliss Butcher .4 per cent.

The mayoral candidates were contacted for comment on the poll and their responses were as follows:

Fliss Butcher: “I want to thank my supporters and look forward to that support growing in the next few weeks.”

Jim Hopkins: “It is too close to call. There is still a way to go and we have to work hard and stay positive, which is really important. No one likes negativity and at the end of the day, there is a choice and the community will make the choice.”

Gary Kircher: “This poll confirms the response I have been hearing as I get around meeting people; that this is essentially a two-horse race. Voters in this election have a clear decision to make about who they want to take us forward – do they want Mr Hopkins, a professional public speaker who hasn’t led any real direction in our district or do they want me, who actually has a record of commercial and financial ability to keep rates affordable, and of real achievements with projects such as leading the Oamaru Harbour rejuvenation? ”

Greg Smith: “I am really surprised at how many undecided voters there are with just over a week to go until voting papers come out, and it really shows that with 64 per cent undecided, anyone could win.”

Eric Spittal: “It is interesting to see the early poll results at this time. It just goes to show that the electorate will on the day have the final say.”

Helen Stead: “It is interesting to see that 64 per cent are undecided and this will make a difference. There is a lot of water yet to run under the bridge.”

David Wilson: “The poll is most exciting in that it demonstrates local residents are the best experts on how to activate positive, meaningful and lasting community change for the district. Clearly a large number see the absolute importance now of choosing a strong and competant leader who is able to inspire and motivate, and many are going to exercise their vote only when they believe they have sufficent information on each candidate to make a balanced decision on who this should be.”

Waitaki District returning officer David Blair said voting papers would be sent out from September 20 and should all be delivered by September 25.

Voting will close at noon on October 12.

Starting today, the Oamaru Mail will publish a series of profiles of Waitaki District Council mayoral and ward candidates and responses to six questions.

We kick off with the Waitaki mayoral candidates on pages 10 and 11.

By Jacquie Webby