Hopkins enters race for mayoralty

Waitaki deputy mayor Jim Hopkins hopes it is his time to lead the Waitaki district as he announced yesterday he is standing for the Waitaki mayoralty. Photo by David Bruce.
Waitaki deputy mayor Jim Hopkins hopes it is his time to lead the Waitaki district as he announced yesterday he is standing for the Waitaki mayoralty. Photo by David Bruce.
Waitaki deputy mayor Jim Hopkins is seeking to alter his position on the Waitaki District Council, announcing yesterday he would be standing for the mayoralty in October's local body elections.

Mr Hopkins had said he would not contest the mayoralty after incumbent Alex Familton announced in May he would be seeking re-election for a third term. Nominated as deputy mayor by Mr Familton after the 2010 election, Mr Hopkins said it would have been disloyal to stand against him.

However, when Mr Familton withdrew from the race ''everything changed'', Mr Hopkins said.

Since Mr Familton made that decision on July 11, Mr Hopkins had been considering his options and testing the views of others in the community, taking time to seek support and put a team together for his campaign.

Even then ''I feel I'm starting as the underdog,'' Mr Hopkins (66) said. But support he had received led him to believe he had a real chance.

Former deputy mayor Gary Kircher (49) and Dunedin City Council councillor Fliss Butcher (55) have already announced their intention to stand.

While he was a little later into the race, Mr Hopkins would be doing everything he could to catch up.

''I want to provide a real contest. I think people deserve a real choice.''

He had also decided to seek re-election for a third term as a councillor for the Oamaru ward.

He was surprised by people encouraging him to contest both the mayoralty and ward councillor, when some candidates felt they should concentrate on one rather than perhaps have votes split between the two.

Mr Hopkins had only done that because he had checked and, if elected mayor as well as an Oamaru ward councillor, there would not be the cost of having a by-election to fill his vacancy as a councillor.

If that happened, every candidate below him in the Oamaru ward moved up one.

When Mr Familton was elected Mayor in 2007, a by-election was held to fill the vacancy he left in Waihemo, but that was because he was the only one nominated for the one councillor in the ward.

Mr Hopkins entered local government in 1989 as a councillor on the Banks Peninsula District Council, serving four terms. He shifted to Oamaru and was elected Oamaru councillor in 2007.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz