Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull faces a
political challenge - possibly from all sides - as the race
for the city's robe and chains later this year begins to heat
Queenstown businessman and philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar
yesterday confirmed he was behind a push to resurrect a
Citizens Association-style group that could support
candidates in October's local body elections.
The idea had been raised with potential backers in Dunedin
and, if confirmed, could see the group's mayoral or council
candidates offered financial support by the group, including
from interested businessmen, he said.
Sir Eion said he was prepared to help finance the right
candidates' campaigns himself, saying the city needed ''good
''I would certainly support that.''
At the same time, former Act New Zealand party list MP Hilary
Calvert, of Dunedin, confirmed she was also considering an
election bid, either by challenging Mr Cull directly or by
seeking a seat as a councillor.
That could include forming a group of like-minded candidates
to contest the election. Some approaches had already been
made, she said.
''If there was a collection of similarly-thinking people, I
might hook up with them.
''I'm reflecting on whether it is something I'd be prepared
The Green Party also plans to announce on Friday a candidate
for the mayoralty - as well as a council seat - and Cr Lee
Vandervis yesterday confirmed he would run again for mayor as
well as a councillor.
Mr Cull told the Otago Daily Times he was only aware
of the Greens' pending challenge, but expected others would
''There will be challengers - there always are.''
Mr Cull, who in January announced his intention to seek
re-election, said yesterday it was ''likely'' he would again
head a Greater Dunedin ticket featuring other council
Exactly who was yet to be confirmed, but decisions were
likely ''in the next month or so'', he said.
However, he fired an opening salvo at those considering a
party political approach to Dunedin's election, saying
''there is a view ... loyalty should be to the community and
not to a party''.
''The mayor is there to represent the best interests of this
community, and I would not want decisions on that to be
driven necessary from a national, political basis.''
Councillors remained split over their election intentions
yesterday, with more confirming they would stand again but
others remaining undecided.
Mr Cull, deputy mayor Chris Staynes and Cr Teresa Stevenson
all confirmed in January they would stand again, Crs Neil
Collins and Fliss Butcher ruled themselves out and the rest
were yet to decide.
Yesterday, Crs Vandervis, John Bezett and Kate Wilson - the
latter standing for the last time - all said they would run
again, while the others remained undecided.
Cr Syd Brown - a former deputy mayor - remained among the
undecided, and would not comment when asked if he would
consider a bid to unseat Mr Cull.
Student radio broadcaster Aaron Hawkins, who stood
unsuccessfully for mayor and council in 2010, has also been
linked to Friday's announcement by the Greens, but he would
not confirm his plans yesterday.
Dunedin businessman Ian Taylor was also rumoured to be a
possible candidate, but he said from London he was
''definitely not a starter''.
Sir Eion said discussions about resurrecting the Citizens
Association remained at an informal stage, but the move was
being considered by possible backers he had approached in
He would not name them, or possible candidates, but believed
it was important to offer support and allow the council to
The association had, in the past, selected and supported
candidates' election bids, including financially, but went
into recess after each election, Sir Eion said.
The new group, if confirmed, could operate in much the same
''The risk is if there's no-one encouraging people, you won't
get good people to stand.
''At the end of the day, it's very important for the city to
have good leadership.''
Ms Calvert would not identify those she had approached, but
believed the council needed ''more sense and rational thought
and a few other things''.
She had hoped to find other candidates to stand instead of
her, but ''I'm not finding a whole lot of other people
standing in a line to do it''.