Deputy mayors aiming for top jobs

Deputy mayors in the South are challenging for the top jobs, with Central Otago District Council's Tony Lepper and Clutha's Hamish Anderson yesterday throwing their hats into the ring for the 2010 local body elections.

Mr Lepper, who is also standing as a councillor in the Earnscleugh-Manuherikia ward, said he was challenging Malcolm Macpherson because it was time for a change, while Mr Anderson's bid against long-serving mayor and friend Juno Hayes was "not personal".

"It's about challenges and major changes on the council. It's an election, not a personal issue," Mr Anderson (49) said.

Last month, Waitaki deputy mayor Gary Kircher announced he would stand against incumbent Alex Familton, while Wanaka's John S. Wilson, the Queenstown Lakes deputy mayor, also confirmed he was aiming for the top job, although Mayor Clive Geddes is not seeking re-election.

Mr Anderson said given the number of senior councillors and committee chairmen who were retiring, he thought it was an opportune time for change.

"Plus, we are starting lots of projects that will take longer than three years to complete."

Mr Anderson cited the Balclutha main street upgrade, changing the traffic flow and the possibility of dams on the lower Clutha River.

Mr Hayes (66) said he always intended to stand for a fifth term and believed his track record as mayor would see him re-elected.

Mr Hayes said he had a strong and unified council and a good network of people to draw on.

He was standing again because "the job is still really enjoyable".

Mr Lepper (54), who was first elected to the Central Otago council in 1989, said he would offer a different leadership style than Dr Macpherson's.

"I'll be a bit more black and white than he is," he said.

"When I first took on the job as deputy nine years ago, Malcolm said he wanted to be mayor for three terms and I said I'd be loyal to him for that time. Well, he's done nine years and I think it's time for a change.

All organisations need refreshing and the council is no exception."

Dr Macpherson (63) said elections were like a three-year performance review.

"You do your best, explain it and then take what comes."


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