Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull faces a ''challenging'' term
dealing with a potentially feisty new council, after seven new
faces emerged from a major clean-out at the Dunedin City
The verbal sparring is already under way, with Mr Cull and
his closest mayoral rivals, Hilary Calvert and Cr Lee
Vandervis, trading barbs yesterday.
Mr Cull plans to meet all new councillors in the coming days,
and hopes a better understanding of council affairs by some
will help heal any rifts.
Mr Cull was satisfied with the ''sound endorsement''
delivered by voters in Dunedin, which saw him romp home to
win a second term as mayor with 18,446 votes.
That gave him a 12,017-vote margin over Ms Calvert, who
garnered 6429 votes.
Trailing the pair were Cr Vandervis (5841 votes), Andrew
Whiley (2946), Aaron Hawkins (2900), Pete George (779),
Olivier Lequeux (503), Kevin Dwyer (217) and Steve McGregor
Mr Cull believes the new council has the makings of ''a very
constructive'' grouping, despite the return of one of his
most vocal critics, Cr Vandervis, and the election of
another, Ms Calvert.
Both launched repeated attacks on Mr Cull and the council's
financial management during their mayoral campaigns.
Another incoming councillor, Doug Hall, remains locked in a
legal dispute with the council over the State Highway 88
Mr Cull said the diversity of views around the council table
would be ''challenging'' but ''healthy'', and hoped for
That included Ms Calvert, despite her continuing criticism of
council finances, he said.
''I think she'll find, once she examines things a little more
thoroughly, that her concerns were misplaced.
''Since I'm sure she's not intending to be a single-issue
councillor, I'm sure there will be lots of other things she
can devote her energies to.''
He denied Ms Calvert's high polling as a councillor was a
public rebuke of the council's financial management.
The state of the council's finances, and the council's
awareness of the position, was ''the best it's been, probably
for decades'', he said.
Ms Calvert disagreed yesterday, saying the results were not
an endorsement of the council's financial management, which
would remain a focus for her.
Instead, the healthy endorsement for Mr Cull reflected the
lack of a major divisive issue such as the Forsyth Barr
Stadium, she believed.
''This time [voters] weren't so dissatisfied, but that's not
a ringing endorsement, I don't think.''
Cr Vandervis said he was disappointed ''Dunedin's biggest
ever debt-spending mayor'' received more than double the
votes of candidates with business experience, who wanted to
''Mayor Cull's excellent poll result confirms most people's
acceptance of his practised TV host delivery, and his
remarkable ability to sit on the fence, keep debt-spending
and fail to offend anybody.''
However, the injection of new councillors with business
experience suggested ''an awakening'' to the need for more
careful financial management, Cr Vandervis said.
He predicted a ''challenging'' term as Greater Dunedin's
candidates battled ''the rest'' of the council.
Mr Cull hoped the next three years would be more about
implementing initiatives contained in the economic
development strategy and the council's other planning
documents, and less about the ''surprises'' of his first term
He also denied Greater Dunedin's hand had been strengthened
by Saturday's results, despite the election of a sixth member
of the group - Mike Lord - and said there would continue to
be no bloc voting.
''That's not what we're about ... I always aim to have a much
bigger majority than just a couple of my mates.''
The new council will meet formally for the first time on
October 29. Mr Cull said he would talk to councillors during
the next few days to discuss appointments, roles and the
Mr Cull has new mayoral powers to appoint his deputy mayor,
committee chairmen and make changes to committee structures,
unless a majority of councillors opt to vote against his
Changes to the committee structure would be considered,
including reorganising the finance, strategy and development
committee - created by a merger at the start of the last term
- by removing the strategy arm, he said.
Issues of strategy could in future go to full council, given
their importance, while steering groups and working parties
might also become sub-committees to make them ''a little more
formal'', he said.
It was likely Mr Cull's first-term deputy, Cr Chris Staynes,
would continue in the role for a second term. A decision was
likely within days, Mr Cull said.