Contenders urged to put names forward

Electoral officials are urging fence-sitting local body candidates to submit their nominations, as several wards across the South remain unfilled.

Nominations for seats on councils, community boards, licensing trusts and some health boards close at noon tomorrow, but yesterday afternoon many wards remained with insufficient, or with no nominations.

If seats remain unfilled at the deadline, councils must hold by-elections in an attempt to fill them as soon as possible.

The picture for council seats across the South was varied, ranging from six gaps among 15 seats in Clutha, to a healthy 24 candidates for 14 seats in Dunedin.

However, Dunedin and Invercargill were the only southern councils with no seats remaining to fill.

Asked if he was concerned about the low number of nominations locally, Clutha District Council chief executive Steve Hill said the district was not alone in having gaps remaining at this late stage.

"There are other councils seeing a similar trend of fewer candidates coming forward to date.

"I’d encourage anyone who is thinking about standing to put their name forward.

"Being an elected member is an important and rewarding role that gives people the opportunity to represent the community and make a difference."

He urged people not to delay, to avoid "last minute" issues with paperwork.

"Anyone thinking about standing can contact our electoral officer for confidential advice."

If seats remained unfilled following the deadline, by-elections would occur in February, he said.

The council would continue to operate in the meantime, as long as it had a quorum of eight or more councillors.

In Central Otago, the situation was not much better yesterday, as four of 12 council seats remained without nominations, in the Vincent and Cromwell wards.

Mayor Tim Cadogan remains unchallenged for the top job.

Gore District Council had just two seats remaining unnominated, in its main Gore ward.

Other wards had no surplus nominations, leading Gore electoral officer Anthony Morton to describe interest overall as "slow".

"It’s looking unlikely that [our] electors will have much to vote on in the October elections. Nominations have been slow to come in with just the required number of vacancies filled so far for most election issues.

"There will be a mayoralty election with Tracy Hicks and Ben Bell having submitted nominations to date."

Waitaki was similarly placed yesterday, as just one seat remained to be filled in the Ahuriri ward, and the Oamaru ward had seven candidates for six seats.

All others had the required number only.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher will be challenged by independent Paul Mutch.

In Invercargill, a strong mayoral challenge to incumbent Sir Tim Shadbolt appears to have spilled over into wider interest in standing for office.

Nine mayoral candidates will vie for his seat at present, and 21 candidates for 12 places on council.

Southland District Council has three of 12 vacancies still requiring nominees, split between the Mararoa Waimea and Waiau Aparima wards.

Five candidates will challenge incumbent mayor Gary Tong for his seat.

In Queenstown-Lakes District, only the Arrowtown-Kawarau ward requires further nominations, as a single candidate is standing for three seats.

Four candidates are competing for outgoing mayor Jim Boult’s position.