Susan Devoy not interested in mayoral chains

By John Cousins news@bayofplentytimes.co.nz

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No heavyweight contenders have emerged to seriously challenge Stuart Crosby's nine-year grip on the leadership of Tauranga.

Dame Susan Devoy has defused speculation that she intends to run for the mayoralty at the elections later this year.

The former world squash champion and community health advocate gave an unequivocal answer to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

"Definitely a no," Dame Susan said.

The TECT trustee, who has taken a prominent role in community organisations since she retired from professional squash at the age of 30, said that being mayor was a thankless task.

Mr Crosby, who is seeking a fourth term as mayor, said he wanted to continue to be at the forefront of the significant changes being driven by both central government and within the council itself.

His massive 13,000-vote majority at the last election, in which he swept aside five challengers, has raised the question about who has a realistic chance of beating him at the ballot box.

Bob Clarkson, the high-profile developer who unseated Winston Peters as the MP for Tauranga in 2005, made it clear he was not ready to re-enter politics.

"I went down to Wellington to get rid of Winston. I've served my time - I don't want to get punished twice."

But he still wanted to see changes. "This place could be made to hum. As a developer and landlord, I am finding it really hard because I am not getting the support of the council."

Another man whose public profile gained a lot of traction from his successful campaign to win election on to TECT, lawyer Bill Holland, said he had declined an approach to stand for the mayoralty.

"I have no desire to stand, definitely not. I enjoy helping the city but I can do it from the side rather than being in the tent and putting up with all that stuff."

City councillor and international motivational speaker Tony Christiansen has largely ruled out challenging Mr Crosby, but added "never say never".

Mr Christiansen said he wanted a second term on the council under his belt in order to get a clear understanding of the council and local government. He did not rule out running for the mayoralty in 2016.

The candidate who came a distant second to Mr Crosby in 2010, city councillor Murray Guy, said he would stand again in the absence of someone else being nominated whom he felt he could support. "If someone indicated that they wanted to stand and I assessed they had the necessary skills, I would lend them my support. I will be advocating for a change in leadership. I am not comfortable about where the council has been and where it is heading."

Tauranga's deputy mayor David Stewart said it was not his intention at this time to stand for the mayoralty. Another councillor and former parliamentarian Larry Baldock also said he would not run for mayor in 2013.

Mr Baldock said if people were serious about being the mayor, they should go for the mayoralty by itself and not have a bob each way by also seeking a seat on the council.

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend was unable to contact councillor Bill Faulkner to see if he intended to repeat his usual election practice of going for both the mayoralty and the council.

Broadcaster Brian Kelly, who spent 31 years as the breakfast voice of Tauranga, said a lot of people would like him to stand but he was not ready for it yet.

Former city councillor and mayoral candidate Mike Baker said he was getting a lot of approaches but had not made up his mind. "The council has no vision and no new ideas. That is why I would like to see some fresh blood."

Bethlehem resident John Robson, who polled fourth for the mayoralty in 2010, was the only person approached by the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend who stated he would stand again. Another unsuccessful contender in 2010, Mark Groos, said if there was a shift in thinking and a group of people campaigned for Tauranga to become more prosperous and for the council to use money wisely, then he would become involved. The bottom polling candidate in 2010, Hori Leaming, said the likelihood of him having another go was "quite high". Tauranga needed a stadium. "The Rugby World Cup in Tauranga was like spending New Year's Eve with the mother-in-law instead of out partying with your mates."'

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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