Aspirants for regional council chair
The horse trading is already under way to find a new chairman for the Waikato Regional Council, with three former mayors featuring prominently among the contenders including former Matamata-Piako District.
Last week, sitting chairman Peter Buckley ruled out seeking a third term, saying it was time to step aside.
He returns to the council in the Waikato constituency but his One Waikato team bombed at the polls, with only one of his seven running mates winning a council seat.
His decision not to contest the top job sets up an intriguing battle for the chairmanship, with former Hamilton mayor Bob Simcock a potential front-runner.
Three years after losing the mayoral chains to Julie Hardaker after a campaign fought in the aftermath of the V8 debacle, Mr Simcock has returned to local government in style, capturing the most votes in the Hamilton constituency.
Mr Simcock said his main focus was developing a strong and cohesive council.
‘‘I haven’t asked anybody or signalled that I’m interested in the leadership but if that became part of making it all work together then I would consider it,’’ he said.
Other contenders for the top job include former Matamata- Piako mayor Hugh Vercoe, long- serving regional councillor Paula Southgate and former Waipa mayor Alan Livingston.
Mr Vercoe planned to meet other councillors this week and had an ‘‘open mind’’ about who should lead the council.
‘‘If the support was there for me to take the chairmanship I would do it but I’m not actively looking for it,’’ he said.
Mr Vercoe, Mr Simcock and Mr Livingston all stituencies.
Mr Livingston said he wasn’t considering seeking the chairmanship ‘‘at this stage’’ but said the successful candidate would need to have an immediate impact in the role.
‘‘We need someone who has got the mana and ability right from the word go and I’m confident that we have that calibre of person on the council, it’s just a matter of moulding a team around them.’’
Ms Southgate, who won her fifth term on council, confirmed she would seek the chairmanship, saying she had the necessary experience and attributes for the job.
She had worked hard to establish good relations with Hamilton City Council and other councils but her leadership bid would ultimately rest with her political colleagues, she said.
Rates Control councillors also figure in the leadership equation, having won six of the 14 council seats.
Rates Control councillor Jane Hennebry was confident her ticket could secure the chairmanship and was already in talks with independent councillors.
‘‘We are one of the key players and I’m confident we can get the eight votes required.
‘‘We have six votes and so we’re in a good position.’’