Mayoral race has potential to be big

By Doug Laing

Napier seems likely to have a rare multi-choice race for its mayoralty, although just one person had last night confirmed to Hawke's Bay Today that they will seek the job.

The confirmation, after 12-year Mayor Barbara Arnott stunned her council when announcing on Tuesday she would not seek re-election in October, came from three-term councillor John Cocking.

He reflected general councillor support for Mrs Arnott by saying he wouldn't have considered standing if she'd been up for the job again and he was "gobsmacked" when she announced her decision.

Others on the council known to be considering standing are two of its newer members, one-term councillor and sole unsuccessful 2010 mayoral candidate Michelle Pyke and two-term councillor Bill Dalton.

Previously reported as planning to be a contender if Mrs Arnott did not stand again, Ms Pyke said she was "reconsidering," and it "depends" who else was standing.

"My preference was that Barbara stay on," she said.

"It was a bit of a surprise. None of us were expecting it."

Mr Dalton, long conjectured as a successor, said last night he was "considering" candidacy - "along with all my other political options".

Councillors and publicans Keith Price and Mark Herbert, the latter in his fifth term, weren't making any rash announcements but seemed unlikely to be putting their names on the ballot paper.

Mr Price said if he was "not happy" with who else was running he would "throw my hat into the ring" but believing a number of councillors had the attributes and he didn't expect to be tossing any headwear about in the near future.

Mr Herbert said: "Never say no but at this stage ... no."

He conjectured possibly three or four councillors contesting , and he was most concerned that there should be "continuity".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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