Vacant seat to stay empty until next election
South Waikato District Council will not fill the vacant seat left as a result of former councillor Barrie Herlihy’s death.
During last week’s council meeting councillors debated how to handle the vacancy with Mayor Neil Sinclair saying the council has the right to appoint someone or to ‘‘run without’’.
Mr Sinclair also said a byelection was not an option.
‘‘The concept of a by-election is not part of the procedure because we’re within 12 months of the next election.’’
He said there were two options, to leave it vacant or appoint someone to help with the work load.
‘‘I believe it would be difficult for a new councillor to come on board and be fully aware of the work that you have already done and councillor Herlihy did. Somebody probably wouldn’t come on until February.’’
The recommendation to leave the seat empty was moved by Mr Sinclair and seconded by councillor Herman van Rooijen.
But councillor Jenny Shattock raised the issue of Tokoroa being under-represented.
Mr Sinclair said: ‘‘I take that on board Cr Shattock and my challenge to Tokoroa councillors is please work a little harder to make up for the loss of councillor Herlihy.’’
Cr Brenda Watkins agreed with the decision to leave the seat vacant.
‘‘I just want to say that I am going to miss having someone beside me. Like all of us, we’re extremely sad that we’ve got to come to this decision but at the same time I cannot imagine that anybody coming in would be able to pick up the things that we have been doing over the last couple of years which has been extremely intensive.’’