Ratepay­ers foot by-elec­tion bill

Central Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JAMES PASLEY

The po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions of two elected Auck­land Coun­cil mem­bers will cost ratepay­ers $230,000.

Auck­land coun­cil­lor Denise Lee and Ma­nurewa Lo­cal Board mem­ber Simeon Brown will both be­come Na­tional MPs, Lee for Maun­gakiekie and Brown for Paku­ranga, af­ter suc­cess­ful cam­paigns in Satur­day’s gen­eral elec­tion.

Their new roles will trig­ger a by-elec­tion for an Auck­land coun­cil­lor and a by-elec­tion for a mem­ber of the Ma­nurewa Lo­cal Board, which Auck­land Coun­cil es­ti­mates will cost $228,000.

But it could have been a lot worse.

Seven other elected mem­bers, in­clud­ing Auck­land coun­cil­lor Linda Cooper and lo­cal board mem­bers Le­mauga Ly­dia Sosene, Ka­t­rina Bun­gard, Peter Chan, Beth Houl­brooke, Ni­cholas Mayne and Lisa Whyte, ran for Par­lia­ment but failed to get elected.

The po­ten­tial cost could have been more than $1 mil­lion of ratepayer’s money.

Massey Univer­sity lo­cal gov­ern­ment lec­turer An­drew Car­dow said gen­eral elec­tions often trig­gered lo­cal by-elec­tions, be­cause peo­ple saw lo­cal gov­ern­ment as a step­ping stone into na­tional pol­i­tics.

‘‘It’s dis­taste­ful. It raises is­sues of in­tegrity more than any­thing else,’’ Car­dow said.

Across the coun­try most city coun­cils would have can­di­dates run­ning, but prob­a­bly not quite as many as in Auck­land, he said.

‘‘How much in­tegrity can you place on a per­son who is ve­he­mently pas­sion­ate about one thing and then less than a year later is find­ing they’re pas­sion­ate about do­ing some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent?

‘‘I would hope that peo­ple who put them­selves for­ward for any type of elec­tion had the con­vic­tion to stay the dis­tance rather than find­ing some­thing more ex­cit­ing and jump­ing on that.’’

Lee said she re­gret­ted the by­elec­tion cost, but there were a num­ber of lo­cal is­sues that needed to be ad­dressed and could be ad­vo­cated for in Par­lia­ment.

She would not step down un­til her new role was made of­fi­cial, and would take a leave of ab­sence with no pay un­til then.

She wouldn’t nom­i­nate a suc­ces­sor but said there were a few good names be­gin­ning to sur­face.

Brown, who will re­place long­time MP Mau­rice Wil­liamson, said he was re­sign­ing this week.

SIMON MAUDE/STUFF

Auck­land coun­cil­lor Denise Lee is Na­tional’s MP for Maun­gakiekie.

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