Possible mayoral hopefuls still mulling next moves

PHOTO: ODT FILES
PHOTO: ODT FILES
One  year out from the next local body election, the race for the Invercargill mayoralty is warming up — but it is still open and wide.

While Southland Mayor Gary Tong and incumbent Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt have already announced their intentions to stand to lead the city, other city councillors are more shy and waiting to see where the chips fall.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, Invercargill city councillors Lindsay Abbott, Peter Kett and Lesley Soper confirmed they would be standing for council but not for the mayoralty.

Crs Alex Crackett, Ian Pottinger, Nigel Skelt and Rebecca Amundsen confirmed they would stand for council, but were still unsure if they would seek the mayoralty.

"I have always intended running for both mayor and council in 2022 but whether I definitely [will] run for mayor will depend on what happens over the next few months," Cr Amundsen said.

"As with all my decisions to do with council, I always make them based on what’s in the best interests of the city as a whole.

"At the moment, it’s too hard to say what that is."

Cr Darren Ludlow, who ran for the mayoralty in the last election and finished second (with 6425 votes), said he was undecided.

"I have not yet decided but have certainly taken a number of calls in recent days," he said.

Broadcaster and councillor Marcus Lush, who was elected to council in February after a by-election, said he did not have any plans yet, but did not rule out any possibility.

"I am just loving being in the council but my focus, at this stage, is to encourage new and diverse people to stand for the council.

"It would be great to have new faces there."

His feeling was echoed by Cr Allan Arnold, who said it was still too early to know if he would stand again.

Cr Graham Lewis and deputy mayor Nobby Clark, on the other hand, were planning to retire from local government next year.

While both agreed they needed more time for themselves, Cr Clark said he was a bit frustrated with the progress in the council.

"I’m over local government politics," he said.

"When I came to the council, I made a list of personal things I wanted to achieve but I think, by the end of the term, we will be able to achieve only a third of that — so you can imagine my level of frustration."

Bluff Community Board member Noel Peterson also announced he intended to run for council and mayor.

Sir Tim said he was excited for next year’s local body elections.

He intended to stand again.

"I think it will be a very interesting election as we have so many issues around us — we have Covid-19, the smelter, climate changes ... They are huge issues so it will make everything more entertaining with a lot of debate."

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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