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Steve Fagerlund has decided he no longer wants to be mayor, but the law will not allow him to remove his name from the ballot paper or candidate profile booklet.
Instead, the Winton caregiver says he will not campaign or talk to ratepayers or the media about election issues.
Southland District Council returning officer Dale Ofsoske, whose company Independent Election Services Ltd is based in Auckland, said up to and including the 2010 elections, candidates were able to withdraw before polling day if they changed their mind about standing.
But a law change now meant candidates’ names could not withdrawn unless they died, or became incapacitated by a serious injury or illness after the closing date for nominations.
Mr Fagerlund said he had decided not to pursue the mayoralty after a "very unsettling act directed towards me and my family" last week, when rotting road kill was left in his letterbox.
He said there was no suggestion incumbent mayor mayor Gary Tong, who is seeking re-election, or his close supporters were involved.
He had reported the incident to the police.