Greens' co-leader contest gets testy

By Ainsley Thomson

The competition to become the Greens' co-leader has heated up, with one candidate taking exception to speculation that it will be "two-horse race" between Nandor Tanczos and Russel Norman.

David Clendon, Mr Norman, Mr Tanczos and Mike Ward were yesterday named as the candidates for role of male co-leader - a position that become vacant after the death of Rod Donald last November.

The party's constitution stipulates that there must be both a male and female co-leader - Jeanette Fitzsimons fills the latter role - but the co-leader does not need to be an MP. A decision will be made in six weeks at the party's annual conference.

There has been speculation in the media that the serious contest will be between Mr Tanczos, a current MP, and Mr Norman, the party's former campaign manager and now development co-ordinator.

Yesterday, Mr Clendon, who was ranked 12th on the party's list at the last election, took exception to this speculation and sent out a press release saying he was very much in the running.

"The decision will be made by more than 100 delegates to the AGM, not by the one or two who may have been talking up their preferred candidate to the media."

Mr Clendon said the party should appoint a non-MP as the co-leader.

"We have a very talented caucus but with only six MPs it makes sense to appoint an out-of-Parliament leader, rather than stretch the sitting MPs even further."

Mr Clendon also raised questions about Mr Norman saying that although he was a skilled analyst and planner, his ability to empathise or communicate well with a wider audience had not been tested.

The party's only other male MP, Keith Locke did not put his name forward. "I'm not ancient or over the hill, but I'm 62 and I thought it would be better to have an age gap between the co-leaders," he said.

THE CANDIDATES

DAVID CLENDON Born: 1955
Environmental management lecturer.
Qualifications: BA, MSc (Hons), GCHE.
Background: Green member since 1990; was ranked 12th on the party list at last year's election; former national co-convener (equivalent to party president).
Why he is standing: "The raw energy that carried the Greens into Parliament in 1999 has been diminished; the party has become too reliant on its parliamentary wing. As co-leader, a major goal will be to reinvigorate the party."

RUSSEL NORMAN Born: 1967
Greens Party development co-ordinator.
Qualifications: BA (Hons), PhD (politics).
Background: Born in Australia, but has lived in NZ for the past nine years; has held various roles within the Green Party including Auckland co-convener, campaign manager, party development co-ordinator and Te Awa board convener.
Why he is standing: "I have the breadth of appeal to reach out to New Zealanders who are sympathetic to Green ideas but who do not currently vote Green. I have organising ability, energy and drive, and I am not afraid of hard work."

NANDOR TANCZOS Born: 1966
Green MP
Qualifications: B.Soc.Sci, Cert Permaculture, Diploma in Sustainable Land Management.
Background: Co-ordinator of the Wild Greens; MP since 1999.
Why he is standing: "Great leadership inspires people with a vision and then helps them be part of making that vision a reality. Therefore a leader must be a good communicator, able to clearly articulate a message in a way that excites people to action. This is one of my greatest strengths as an MP, activist and speaker, and the most significant contribution that I would bring to co-leadership."

MIKE WARD Born: 1942
Artist
Qualifications: Dip. Teaching, Dip. Fine Arts.
Background: Former city councillor, Green MP 2002-2005.
Why he is standing: "My purpose is to do whatever will enable and encourage people to make the kinds of choices that will make life good for themselves as well as all other species, communities and generations with which we share the planet."

- Additional reporting NZPA

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