While the mayoralty elections around Otago represent, on the
whole, status quo results, the same cannot be said for the
Dunedin City Council.
Otago's largest council is likely to be in for intriguing
times on account of the number of fresh faces and because of
the mix of backgrounds and outlooks.
Several of the old guard stood down this election. Neil
Collins, Syd Brown, Colin Weatherall, Bill Acklin and Fliss
Butcher did not seek re-election. Add in unsuccessful
candidates Paul Hudson and Teresa Stevenson - with scores of
years' experience between them - and that makes seven new
councillors out of 14.
Mayor Dave Cull cleaned up his nearest rivals Hilary Calvert
and Lee Vandervis in the race for the chains, but will at
times have his work cut out seeking the consensus that suits
The two aforementioned have campaigned strongly, and neither
thinks conventionally nor is afraid to do battle. It is hard
to see them becoming inculcated with the views of the mayor
or the council bureaucracy, as Cr Vandervis has already
It is interesting, too, that such polarising candidates do
well under STV voting, with both well and truly garnering
enough support to be elected on first preferences.
It seems also that voters, although wanting neither Ms
Calvert nor Cr Vandervis as mayor, do not desire a line-up of
yes women and men. They want council strategies, spending and
priorities to be questioned.
It is no surprise voters injected a green element to the
council. Aaron Hawkins, standing specifically as a Green,
made it this time after trying unsuccessfully three years
ago. He will find general ideological support from the
popular Jinty MacTavish. And Neville Peat, a former deputy
chairman of the Otago Regional Council, possesses strong
Just to spice up debates about cycleways and preparedness for
climate change are councillors who appear to come from other
persuasions. Mike Lord, in Mosgiel-Taieri (one of four
elected officials with a farming background on the ''city''
council), has made his views clear today.
Doug Hall will be watched with interest, especially because
of the deep dispute with the council over the Frederick St
and Anzac Ave intersection with his yard. Andrew Whiley,
while business friendly, could at least initially, be hard to
David Benson-Pope in the late 1980s and into the 1990s was
vigorous and questioning. Will he still show that energy and
That leaves John Bezett, who has been on the council for many
years, and Chris Staynes from the central ward, Andrew Noone
(Waikouaiti-Coast) and Kate Wilson (Mosgiel Taieri).
They and the mayor and the other sitting councillor, Richard
Thomson, could well provide moderating influences. The
elections again show the importance of profile, notably in a
large city ward where intimate knowledge of councillors among
electors is less likely.
Mr Benson-Pope and Ms Calvert are former MPs, with Mr
Benson-Pope a one-time Labour Cabinet minister. Four of the
successful candidates, including Ms Calvert, had the
advantage of the extra exposure as mayoral aspirants and Mr
Hall - who stood unsuccessfully for council on five previous
occasions - has been in the news.
The idea of the Greater Dunedin tag representing a policy
platform was clearly inaccurate given the potential contrast
between members like Cr MacTavish and Mr Lord. Those behind
the group will be disappointed they could not carry at least
one or two more candidates through in the central ward.
In the Clutha mayoralty, passionate Bryan Cadogan crushed a
capable rival, while the Waitaki voters went for the business
and community experience of Gary Kircher ahead of Jim
Tony Lepper, in Central Otago, and Vanessa van Uden, in
Queenstown-Lakes, made no race of their mayoralty contests,
although the voters of the Wanaka ward were not afraid to
ditch their long-time representatives Leigh Overton and Jude
Meanwhile, the people of Dunedin can look forward to lively
debates and thorough examination of policies.
They have, generally, eschewed non-contentious candidates for
councillors with a variety of views.