As­pi­rants for re­gional coun­cil chair

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

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.

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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.’’

Hugh Ver­coe.

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