Otago Daily Times

Ex­coun­cil­lor calls for fresh peo­ple at ta­ble


- LUISA GIRAO luisa.girao@odt.co.nz Politics · Elections · Invercargill · Department of Internal Affairs · Lindsay Thomas

A FOR­MER In­ver­cargill City coun­cil­lor be­lieves a freshen­up of lo­cal body rep­re­sen­ta­tives would be the best for ratepay­ers.

Busi­ness­man Wayne Harpur will make a pub­lic sub­mis­sion to coun­cil next week ask­ing all coun­cil­lors to step down so as to trig­ger a by­elec­tion.

He con­firmed yes­ter­day he would stand in the up­com­ing by­elec­tion fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of deputy mayor Toni Bid­dle last month.

‘‘I will be ac­tively en­cour­ag­ing the in­cum­bent coun­cil­lors to re­sign en masse and use the op­por­tu­nity of this by­elec­tion to reval­i­date their man­dates at no ad­di­tional cost to the ratepayer.’’

Mr Harpur was at the coun­cil for one and a­half terms after an­other by­elec­tion process.

When asked why he would like to re­turn, he said, be­cause coun­cil was an ‘‘ab­so­lute’’ mess.

He re­ceived 6513 votes in 2019’s elec­tion — only 109 fewer than Peter Kett who was the last coun­cil­lor to se­cure a spot at coun­cil’s ta­ble.

The new by­elec­tion comes amid a probe into the coun­cil by the Depart­ment of In­ter­nal Affairs, which has raised con­cerns about ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant con­flict’’.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Clare Hadley said last month a pre­lim­i­nary timetable would get nom­i­na­tions called for in Novem­ber and clos­ing in De­cem­ber, with vot­ing to open be­tween late Jan­uary and mid­Fe­bru­ary.

The Otago Daily Times spoke to other can­di­dates about their in­ten­tions to stand.

For­mer coun­cil­lor Lind­say Thomas, who had 6511 votes, gave a firm ‘‘no’’.

‘‘Why join the cir­cus when there is no ring­leader?’’

While he stressed he had en­joyed his time as coun­cil­lor and be­lieved the city had good rep­re­sen­ta­tives, he did not want to be part of it in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘It is em­bar­rass­ing.’’

Kari Graber got 6376 votes and was con­sid­er­ing her po­si­tion.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple are telling me that I should try again. I was sure I would do that on the next elec­tion, but now it can be a good op­por­tu­nity.’’

She said she would make a fi­nal de­ci­sion closer to the dead­line as she wanted to see how ‘‘coun­cil will play’’ in the next month.

‘‘I want to con­trib­ute in a col­lab­o­ra­tive en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Barry Chilton, who had 6206 votes, was ‘‘tempted’’ but un­sure.

For­mer coun­cil­lor Thelma Buck com­pletely dis­missed the idea.

She said she was ‘‘dis­gusted’’ at the way coun­cil was be­hav­ing to­wards the In­ver­cargill Mayor, Sir Tim Shadbolt.

‘‘I’m re­ally an­noyed. He [sir Tim] has as much the right to be the mayor as they . . . [have to be] coun­cil­lors. Ev­ery­body was voted in.’’

Steve Ch­ernishov, who got 3168 and tried for the may­oralty, said he would ‘‘give it a go’’. Other can­di­dates could not be reached.

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