Mayoral candidate questions lack of support

Defeated Queenstown mayoral candidate Nik Kiddle is wondering what happened to the Wanaka Airport protest vote.

Preliminary results show Mayor Jim Boult was returned with 5535 votes, comfortably ahead of Mr Kiddle with 3337 votes.

Mr Kiddle said yesterday he had expected more support from the 3000 members of the Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) whose views on the development of Wanaka Airport align with his.

"So I would have thought they would have been able to deliver a bigger section of community support for me but obviously that didn't happen, I don't think.''

With final results not due until the end of the week, and a breakdown of how Wanaka people voted not likely this week, Mr Kiddle had only ``gut instinct'' and some ``educated guesses'' to rely on.

"Something doesn't stack up.

"Either WSG is not as big as it thinks or absolutely nobody outside of Wanaka voted for me.''

Radio Wanaka owner Mike Regal, who has spoken publicly in favour of airport development, said yesterday the WSG "way overestimated'' its support.

"The election result would indicate there are more people in favour of airport development and the introduction of narrow body jets than those who are against it.''

And successful Wanaka Community Board candidate Ed Taylor, who also strongly favours airport development, said he was surprised the margin between Mr Boult and Mr Kiddle was not closer.

"I think one of the problems is when you have a vocal, well-organised and media savvy group like the Wanaka Stakeholders Group it can seem they have more support than they actually do.

"One of the reasons I went public with my stand on Wanaka Airport was because I was meeting hundreds of people who agreed with me but were not prepared to speak out themselves.''

The WSG did not endorse any candidate.

Chairman Michael Ross said he thought Mr Kiddle polled well "considering how late it was before he declared his candidacy''.

Mr Ross did not consider the election outcome was damaging to the group.

"The issue is still very much alive and our growth in membership - now at more than 3000 - I believe is testament to that.''

Mr Kiddle said he had no regrets not standing for the council as well as the mayoralty.

"I don't think I could have worked for the next three years with the mayor.''

Mr Boult said a geographical breakdown of voting would be available late next week.

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