Deputy to challenge Shadbolt

Invercargill's deputy mayor Rebecca Amundsen has announced she will run for mayor. Photo: Petrina Wright
Invercargill's deputy mayor Rebecca Amundsen has announced she will run for mayor. Photo: Petrina Wright
Invercargill's long-serving mayor Tim Shadbolt is being challenged by his deputy Rebecca Amundsen for the mayoral chains.

She announced her run for the Invercargill mayoralty yesterday.

Until the announcement it looked as if Mr Shadbolt, who has been in office continuously since 1998, and was previously mayor from 1993-1995, would stand unopposed.

In December, Cr Toni Biddle announced her intention to run, but then later withdrew from the race.

Announcing her candidacy, Ms Amundsen said she had completed her apprenticeship as a councillor over the past six years and had the necessary experience.

She said her approach would be different to Mr Shadbolt's.

''My focus is very much around the community engagement and trying to bring that kind of change into the way the council operates, which has to be done from the top down in the governance sense, whereas Tim came into the council at a different time, when Invercargill was in a very different space to where we are now.

''The skills needed at that time were around promoting Invercargill and putting it on the map.

''It wouldn't be my focus.''

The 41-year-old mother of two boys moved from Oamaru to Invercargill at the age of 23 so her partner could study at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).

Her involvement in the Glengarry Rejuvenation Project in 2010-11 piqued her interest in local government.

The group approached the council with ideas of how to improve the Glengarry shopping centre, which was largely council-owned, and found it difficult to work with the council at that time, she said.

''I thought it shouldn't be this hard for communities and council to do these things together.''

Ms Amundsen is involved in numerous community organisations and projects in the city.

She listed the lack of housing, particularly social and affordable housing, as a key challenge for the council, as well as managing the impact of significant new developments planned for the city.

Mr Shadbolt is New Zealand's longest-serving mayor, with two earlier terms as mayor of Waitemata City under his belt. He has been a staunch advocate of his adopted home town ever since he was first elected in 1993.

The SIT's zero-fees scheme, Stadium Southland and SIT Velodrome were developed during his mayoralty.

The 2019 mayoral campaign will be his 11th and recently the 72-year old said he had no plans to retire from civic life anytime soon.

-By Petrina Wright

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