Too few standing to fill council roles

Just  three and a-half days from the deadline for nominations in October's local body elections, there are not enough prospective candidates to fill Otago's councils and community boards.

While candidates regularly leave nominations until the last minute, electoral officers across the southern region say for this election the response is particularly slow.

Dunedin's community boards have just 10 nominations for 30 positions, while in the Clutha district there have been only five nominations so far for the 27 positions available.

Electoral officers have called on candidates to get cracking and submit their nominations before they close at noon on Friday.

They say nominations with issues that need to be corrected might not make it in time.

If not enough nominations were forthcoming, by-elections costing thousands of dollars would be required.

Clutha District Council deputy electoral officer Alan Dickson said the rate nominations were coming in this year was ``definitely the worst'' of the three elections he had witnessed.

Dunedin City Council electoral officer Pam Jordan said the response from prospective candidates seemed ``slower than usual this time''.

There were instances at past elections where up to 70% of nominations came in the last week.

While she was sure they would come, ``we would prefer them to come in earlier rather than later''.

Central Otago District Council electoral officer Kara Leckie said nominations were slower this year than in either of the previous two elections she had worked on.

``It's normally quite slow receiving them in, but this year is probably the slowest,'' she said.

``If we don't get enough nominations, there's a possibility of having to hold by-elections to fill the vacancies, which will cost ratepayers a few thousand dollars.''

Queenstown Lakes District Council electoral officer Jane Robertson also said nominations were slower this election in her area.

The requirement for candidates to lodge their profile statement and photograph at the same time as their nomination meant some nominations could not be processed because they were incomplete.

``I am also aware of some individuals who have signalled publicly their intention to stand but have still to complete the paperwork, so I would encourage them to make sure they do this sooner rather than later,'' Ms Robertson said.

Electoral officers were required by law to be ``very strict'' with the cut-off point of noon on Friday for nominations, and Ms Robertson said she did not want any candidate to be in the position where their nomination was invalid because it was lodged with insufficient time to correct any issues.

Waitaki District Council electoral officer Carole Hansen said in her district the situation was ``pretty much on par'' with the last election.

Invercargill has bucked the trend to the north, with more nominations than positions for city council seats.

However, by yesterday, there was only one nomination for the five-member Bluff Community Board.

Nominations were trickling in for ward seats at the Southland District Council, and were very slow for the district's seven community boards, with numbers for each board as of yesterday ranging from none to four.


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