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Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay apologised to those turned away from the Rotary Club of Oamaru's candidates meeting last night at the Oamaru Opera House.
But the 101-seat ODT InkBox was at capacity by 7pm - and at least 20 people were turned away before the evening began.
Mr McLay, the night's master of ceremonies, thanked those who did come to hear from the 22 individuals present seeking a role at the Waitaki District Council - and he said he knew well the feeling of being left on the outside, after he suffered defeat in the 2007 Waitaki mayoral race.
"There are far more candidates here than there are jobs," Mr McLay said. "It really hurts."
All 19 council candidates who came to the forum were given two minutes to introduce themselves and the issues they cared about. Core services, including waste services; governance experience; community housing; rural advocacy; providing "a listening ear"; diversity on the council; the district's potential; and personal integrity all featured.
Among the three Waitaki mayoral candidates, both those without council experience pushed back against incumbent Gary Kircher's continued use of his experience as a difference-maker.
Paul Mutch leaned on his past business experience in accommodation, building and farming and touted his role at the expanded Palmerston and Waihemo A&P Association show and growing Otago Field Days.
Katrina Hazelhurst said the mayoralty most basically called for someone who would represent the people of the district and "unpaid" she had represented individuals and groups as an advocate her entire life.
Asked about his track record, Mr Kircher reached for an aphorism.
"Show me a person who's never made a mistake and I'll show you a person who's never done anything," he said.