Otago Daily Times

Excouncill­or calls for fresh people at table

INVERCARGI­LL

- LUISA GIRAO luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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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