Last-minute rush to stand

A famine of candidates for October’s local body elections has become a feast, after a flood of last-minute nominations.

Dunedin, in particular, will have hotly-contested mayoral, council and community board elections, while five people will compete for the mayoralty in Queenstown, three in Central Otago and two in Waitaki.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan was elected unopposed.

Forty-three  people have put their names forward for 14 Dunedin City Council spots, and 11 for the  mayoralty.

That compared with 35 for council and nine for mayor in 2013.

Every community board in the city will be contested, for the first time in years.

That is a remarkable turnaround since Monday this week, when it looked as if there might  not be enough candidates for the positions available, and electoral officers across the region called for candidates to get their nominations in.

But the last-minute rush was not without its problems.

Three candidates in Dunedin left it so late they missed out.

On Monday, just three and a-half days from the deadline, there were a mere 24 nominations for 51 positions.

The city’s community boards had only 10 nominations for 36 positions.

Just minutes before noon yesterday the office at the Dunedin City Council set aside for filing  nominations was packed with people.

One was sent away to sort out a problem with the address of one of his nominators, returning just in time to get his candidacy in.

Others grappled with their mobile phones, sending pictures for their candidate profile, or tried to deal at the last minute with written profiles that were too long.

Three candidates missed out because the people who were nominating them did not live in the area where they were standing.

Electoral officer Pam Jordan said that had happened "once or twice" in the past, but three in one year was more than usual.

Ms Jordan said staff had experienced a "hectic" morning.

The majority of candidates had left it until this week to get their nominations in.

Often candidates put nominations in towards the end, but there seemed to be "a huge rush in the last half-hour this particular time".

All community boards had enough nominations to have elections, "the first time in many years we haven’t had community boards elected unopposed".

Figures showed that at every election since 1998 there had been unopposed community board elections, where only six people were nominated for six positions.

Several Dunedin councillors are stepping down this election.

They are: Crs John Bezett, Neville Peat, Jinty MacTavish, Hilary Calvert, Richard Thomson and Andrew Noone.

The new council will have to deal with issues including the need for investment in South Dunedin infrastructure in the face of flooding threats and the future of city cycleways, which have caused widespread debate after planning failures.

How the city responds to climate change will also cause headaches.

Delivery of voting documents to households will begin on September 16, and voting closes on October 8.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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