Would-be MP says he could still be Tauranga councillor

New Tauranga city councillor Clayton Mitchell is resisting calls that he resign from the council if he makes it to Parliament in the upcoming elections as a New Zealand First MP.

Mr Mitchell, who was elected to the Tauranga City Council nine months ago, revealed yesterday that he had put his hand up to become the NZ First candidate for Tauranga. Mr Mitchell believed he could juggle the demands of being a councillor with those of being an MP.

"I think there is enough evidence of failures and success that shows it is really down to each individual," he said.

He said he had put a lot of thought into it, had a huge amount of energy and could do both jobs.

"I'm not saying it will be a skip in the tulips but it can be done," he said.

However, Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said Mr Mitchell should resign as a councillor if he became an MP.

"He has assured me he could maintain his council duties, but if he is successful [in becoming an MP], my personal view would be that he should resign," he said. "You have to dedicate yourself to one job or the other, you can't do both.

"Despite Clayton's energy and enthusiasm, it won't work." Mr Mitchell is the second newly elected councillor to announce national political aspirations.

In March, Steve Morris announced his intention to stand for National in the Bay of Plenty electorate. He was unsuccessful and Todd Muller was named the candidate.

NZ First Mount Maunganui branch chairman Roy Townhill said Mr Mitchell was one of three people who had put their hand up locally for the position. A selection panel, made up of the board chairman, the deputy leader and the party director, had picked him yesterday.

Mr Townhill said Mr Mitchell's candidacy was likely to be ratified overnight and the process was "a formality".

NZ First Leader Winston Peters said the selection process "hadn't been completed"and he would not talk about the Tauranga candidate until the matter had been discussed by the party's board.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said it was good to see most of the major parties represented in Tauranga.

Labour Tauranga candidate Rachel Jones said the selection of candidates indicated an "interesting"election race.

Meanwhile, Moana radio host Pat Spellman has announced he will run as the Waiariki candidate for the NZ Independent Coalition in this year's elections.

The 23-year-old will join Brendan Horan, the party leader and current Independent member of Parliament, who will stand in the Bay of Plenty electorate, while former regional council councillor Michael O'Neill will stand in the Tauranga electorate. - additional reporting Ruth Keber

- By Anita Moran of the Bay of Plenty Times

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