Mayoral role is attracting interest

By Lawrence Gullery


Contenders are stepping forward as potential leaders of Hastings should incumbent mayor Lawrence Yule decide to pursue his political career at the neighbouring Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

His possible departure from the Hastings District Council would leave the field wide open for a new candidate or current councillor to contest the mayor's job at the local government elections in October.

Hastings district councillors Simon Nixon and Wayne Bradshaw told Hawke's Bay Today they would put their hands up as mayoralty candidates if Mr Yule decided to leave. Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers and councillor Kevin Watkins were two more possibilities but reserved their decisions when asked if they would like to contest the top job.

Mr Nixon contested the mayoralty at the 2010 election but was defeated by Mr Yule. He was voted through as a councillor for the Hastings ward and is completing his first term.

"What I found is that it's hard to contest the mayoralty unless you've got some kind of profile, or you've already been on council as a councillor.

"And I now understand, after being on council, that everything is largely controlled by the mayor. You have limited impact as a councillor, more as mayor."

Mr Nixon felt there needed to be more of a regular turnover of mayors in Hawke's Bay.

"I think people are staying in these positions for too long and taking us in the wrong direction. There is too much emphasis on building monuments rather than making Hawke's Bay more dynamic when it comes to the economy."

Mr Bradshaw said he'd take the opportunity to contest the mayoralty if Mr Yule left his post.

"I think we need to start going in a different direction and the only way to achieve that is to stand for mayor. There needs to be a few changes in the way the mayor leads the district and I believe I would be capable."

Mr Bradshaw, in his second term as a Havelock North ward councillor, said councils needed to start putting people first rather than politics and bureaucracy.

"If Lawrence stepped aside to go for regional council, that is likely to open the field up and enable other people to put their hands up to show a different way forward."

Ms Bowers, in her sixth term as councillor, said Mr Yule was "well suited" to lead Hastings and she would not want to see him leave.

"I guess from a Hastings perspective I think he is the best person to lead Hastings.

"I have not fully decided but at this stage I would seek re-election. I have come back from leave with a whole lot of things I want to achieve for Hastings and so the work is not done yet."

Ms Bowers pointed out there could also be proposals to reorganise Hawke's Bay's councils before this year's election.

Mr Watkins is in his fourth term as councillor and said it was "a little bit early in the piece" to say whether he would want to challenge for the mayoralty.

"I was surprised to hear that Lawrence was considering a move to the regional council, that's a call he's got to make at some point in time. I think at this stage I would not be committing myself to looking at the [mayor's] role but I am not ruling out it could ever happen."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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