May­oralty a two-horse race

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - JA­NINE RANKIN AND RICHARD MAYS

A last-hour nom­i­na­tion has set up a two-horse race for the city may­oralty.

Nom­i­na­tions closed at mid­day on Fri­day, and Grant Smith, sit­ting mayor since Fe­bru­ary 2015, will be joined on the hus­tings by chal­lenger Ross Bar­ber.

This will be Bar­ber’s third tilt at the may­oral chains, stand­ing in 2013 and in the 2015 by-elec­tion.

In 2013 Bar­ber polled fourth out of six can­di­dates, with 605 votes. In last year’s by-elec­tion he was ex­cluded at the first it­er­a­tion of the STV count with 118 first­pref­er­ence votes, fin­ish­ing last out of nine may­oral hope­fuls.

Smith’s by-elec­tion vote tally was 11,480.

Rep­re­sent­ing ‘‘team God’’, Bar­ber said he was do­ing ‘‘what peo­ple of the Do­min­ion and team God wanted him to do’’.

Vot­ers will have their first pub­lic chance to com­pare the two dur­ing a coun­cil-spon­sored Meet the May­oral Can­di­dates ses­sion next Tues­day at the Palmer­ston North Con­ven­tion Cen­tre from mid­day.

Massey Univer­sity lo­cal gov­ern­ment com­men­ta­tor Chris­tine Cheyne said it was disappointing Smith was not fac­ing some strong chal­lenges.

‘‘My con­cern is voter turnout, and when peo­ple think the in­cum­bent is likely to get a lot of sup­port, they tend to be less in­ter­ested.’’

In 2007, just over 24,000 vot­ers turned out (46 per cent). In 2010, that dropped to 22,453 (43 per cent), and in 2013 only 20,790 (39 per cent) voted.

Cheyne is pleased though at the num­ber, cal­i­bre and di­ver­sity of those con­test­ing coun­cil seats. The num­ber of nom­i­na­tions for the 15 places is 28, with 12 sit­ting coun­cil­lors up for re-elec­tion.

Bud­ding can­di­dates Brent Bar­rett, Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke, Zul­fi­gar Butt, David Chisholm, Darryl Cle­land, Gavin Edwards, Martin Egan, James Etuale, Sh­eryll Ho­era, Lorna John­son, Tony McLaugh­lan, Karen Nay­lor, Elizabeth Paine, Joseph Poff, Sue Pug­mire, and Abi Symes are up against sit­ting coun­cil­lors Su­san Baty, Rachel Bowen, Adrian Broad, Vaughan Den­ni­son, Lew Find­lay, Leonie Hapeta, Jim Jef­feries, Dun­can McCann, Billy Mee­han, Bruno Pe­tre­nas, Aleisha Rutherford and Tangi Utikere.

Vot­ing pa­pers will be mailed out be­tween Septem­ber 16 and 21, with postal vot­ing un­til elec­tion day on Oc­to­ber 8.

Re­cently-elected mayor Grant Smith will face off against con­tender Ross Bar­ber for the city’s top job in the up­com­ing lo­cal body elec­tions.

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