North­ern ward race gath­ers mo­men­tum


The North­ern ward is shap­ing as a hotly con­tested race in this year’s Welling­ton City Coun­cil lo­cal body elec­tions.

The in­cum­bent North­ern coun­cil­lors are Justin Lester, Mal­colm Spar­row and Helene Ritchie, but that may change in Oc­to­ber.

Spar­row will run for a sec­ond tri­en­nium af­ter what he said was an en­joy­able first term. He said it was nec­es­sary for Tawa to have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the coun­cil.

‘‘Tawa makes up one third of the North­ern ward. There are three coun­cil­lors in the North­ern ward, so there­fore it is en­tirely fair in my opin­ion for one of those coun­cil­lors to be Tawa based.’’ Spar­row was pos­i­tive about his chances of be­ing elected once again.

Lester, cur­rently the deputy mayor and a may­oral can­di­date this time around, and Ritchie said they were not yet will­ing to de­clare whether they will run.

Ritchie be­came a city coun­cil- lor in 1978 and there have been sug­ges­tions she might have reached her use-by date. she barely re­tained her seat in 2013.

She said the coun­cil still had sig­nif­i­cant work to do be­fore the elec­tion and that was her pri­or­ity.

‘‘The fo­cus should be on gov­er­nance, not pro­mot­ing one­self,’’ she said. ‘‘My fo­cus is on my job, not on my ego.’’

Lester said his pri­mary fo­cus would be the may­oralty, and that it was un­likely he would de­cide whether to stand for his ward again un­til nom­i­na­tions closed on Au­gust 12.

He is run­ning on the Labour Party ticket for mayor, but Peter Gil­berd, who ran un­suc­cess­fully in 2013, has the back­ing of the Labour Party in the North­ern ward.

Gil­berd nar­rowly missed out at the last elec­tion. He led Ritchie on elec­tion night, but lost by 27 when the spe­cial votes were added.

‘‘We’ll be cam­paign­ing hard to over­come the 27 votes we missed out by last time,’’ he said.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett, who is hav­ing a tilt at the Welling­ton may­oralty, has dis­missed sug­ges­tions he would run in the North­ern ward.

Can­di­dates men­tioned medium-den­sity hous­ing and town cen­tre plan­ning as im­por­tant is­sues for the ward.

Sev­eral other can­di­dates have been men­tioned as North­ern ward con­tenders, but none have yet con­firmed their can­di­dacy.

Vot­ing – in­clud­ing postal vot­ing – will close on Oc­to­ber 8.

Likely North­ern ward can­di­dates, from left, Justin Lester, Mal­colm Spar­row, Helene Ritchie and Peter Gil­berd.

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