Who wants to be Porirua’s mayor?
Euon Murrell could become the next mayor of Porirua on Friday and that’s an embarrassment.
Aside from former councillor and deputy mayor Liz Kelly, who has kept her head below the parapet these past three years, no viable candidate has shown themselves with just days to go before nominations close.
Kelly is a only ‘‘maybe’’, so Murrell is so far facing no competition. This means there could be no mayoral election this year.
Local body politics either gets people chatting about or sends people to sleep.
If more than 40 per cent of residents in Porirua vote in September, it will be a miracle. We had fingers crossed that online voting would come in and boost the numbers, especially among the generally apathetic young crowd, but the handbrake has been put on that.
A half-decent mayoral race can get the enthusiasm quotient up.
The fact Murrell looks set to stand unopposed is bewildering. You would have expected that once the all-powerful Nick Leggett stood aside, the suitors for the mayoral chains would be sharpening their claws.
Murrell, Leggett’s anointed successor, is experienced, speaks his mind and is a capable leader, but his ‘‘steady as she goes, let’s not rock the boat, keep calm and carry on’’ mindset must turn some people cold.
In the past, the likes of Gregory Fortuin and Russell Marshall, who once held high profiles, were viable candidates. Even Litea Ah Hoi, a dominant force and a shoo- in as a councillor in the Eastern ward, won thousands of mayoral votes in the past.
But they are all otherwise occupied in 2016.
Who does that leave? Surely in a city of more than 54,000, there must be someone. We asked Willie Taurima, who recently left his job as the manager of recreation at Te Rauparaha Arena, whether he was interested, but he said ‘‘no, thanks’’.
Is Murrell unbeatable? No way. He’s a councillor, through and through, and will command votes in the northern part of Porirua, but there must someone from the largely Maori and Pacific Eastern ward who would make a suitable alternative.
It’s a tough ask to oppose Murrell, especially at this late stage. Residents receive voting papers next month.
Hopefully someone notable has the courage to put themselves forward this week and Murrell is challenged on his views about where Porirua should be heading.
Who wants to see a one-horse race?