Northland councillor seeking two seats

By Mike Dinsdale

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Steve McNally
Steve McNally

Bankrupt Far North District Councillor Steve McNally says he has the skills and experience - including the financial nous - to sit on the Far North and Whangarei District Councils. He is standing for election in both districts in October's local body elections.

Mr McNally, who was declared bankrupt in February over a $856,353 debt to a finance company related to a valuation he carried out, is taking the rare step of standing for election under a Focus New Zealand banner in the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Ward in the Far North and the Hikurangi-Coastal Ward in Whangarei.

Under election rules a person can stand for election in a district they don't reside in if two registered voters from the district nominate them. Two Whangarei voters nominated Mr McNally, a former valuer.

Mr McNally said being a councillor was not a fulltime job and he said he could well represent both wards if elected to both in the October 12 elections.

He said being declared bankrupt was not an impediment to him being involved in running the council and he had been a Far North District Councillor, including formerly chairing its Audit and Finance Committee, for a number of years.

"I was nominated (in Whangarei) because they were interested in my experience and skills. Through my valuation background I know Whangarei well and I did own property there," Mr McNally said.

"Nobody up here is owed money by me and I was wound up by an Auckland finance house who I did a valuation for."

He said his financial knowledge would serve him well on both councils, which were in effect businesses involving more than $100 million a year each.

"(Being a councillor) is not a fulltime job really, and those that say it is are probably getting into the management side of things too much, which is a mistake. It's about understanding your purpose, which is in the governance, not the management," Mr McNally said.

"I'm quite confident that if I'm elected to both (councils) I would do a good job. That's the reason the people (in Whangarei) nominated me."

He said with the Government likely to foist unitary authorities on Northland in the future he wanted to get a good understanding of the financial position of the WDC.

"We're (FNDC) in a much better shape financially than the WDC and I'm about reducing debt and focusing on getting the districts moving forward."

Mr McNally said his past record as a valuer and in local government should see people get past the fact that he is a bankrupt.

Electoral officer Dale Ofsoske said the Local Electoral Act only precludes people standing for a district council and regional council in the same area at once.

Mr Ofsoske said it is "very rare" for somebody to stand for two district councils and it had only happened once in the 26 years he had been running local body elections in the upper North Island.

Under the Local Government Act local authorities, when adopting a code of conduct, must consider whether or not they will require members to declare if they are bankrupt.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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