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.