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When nominations closed yesterday, 28 candidates were running for the 12-seat council this year, up noticeably from 20 at the last election.
These include experienced politicians such as four-term Labour MP and environment minister Marian Hobbs, four-term Dunedin city councillor Kate Wilson and former Act New Zealand list MP and one-term Dunedin city councillor Hilary Calvert.
Former Waitaki mayor Alex Familton is contesting the one-seat Moeraki constituency, for which last election incumbent Doug Brown ran unopposed.
This year it is contested by four candidates.
Two-term Queenstown District councillor Alexa Forbes will vie for the three-seat Dunstan constituency seat along with five others including former Otago Federated Farmers president Phill Hunt and Gary Kelliher, who has a profile as a representative of water users.
Tahuna Intermediate principal Tony Hunter has put his name forward in the Dunedin constituency.
The shock omission from the nominations list is three-term chairman and 15-year regional councillor Stephen Woodhead, who previously indicated he was likely to stand.
New blood is assured as sitting councillors Sam Neill, Trevor Kempton, Doug Brown and Ella Lawton have also stepped aside.
Councillors who will run again are Graeme Bell, Michael Laws, Michael Deaker, Gretchen Robertson, Andrew Noone, Bryan Scott, Carmen Hope.