Election candidates slow coming forward

By Alexandra Newlove

1 comment
Council hopefuls are urged to throw their hats in the ring sooner rather than later, with nominations sluggish so far.
Council hopefuls are urged to throw their hats in the ring sooner rather than later, with nominations sluggish so far.

Council hopefuls are urged to join the race now or risk missing their chance on a technicality.

Only a handful of candidates have stepped forward ahead of next week's nomination deadline for the 2016 Local Government Elections - in line with the 2013 election, where the vast majority of people left it late to throw their hat in the ring.

As of yesterday, three people had put their names forward for the 10-member Kaipara District Council; four for the 14-member Whangarei District Council; four for the 10-member Far North District Council and seven for the 9-member Northland Regional Council.

FNDC also had four so far running for its community boards, which needed 19 members.

Statistics from the 2013 local body elections showed that of the 167 candidates that stood for FNDC, WDC and NRC, 127 put their names forward in the final week of the month-long nomination period. KDC did not hold elections in 2013 as it was under Government-appointed commissioners.

This year's candidates needed to file their nomination documents by noon on August 12 - next Friday.

But officials said they ran the risk of missing out if they filed paperwork at the last minute and there turned out to be a problem with it.

WDC governance manager Jason Marris said it was "a risky thing" for candidates to play the waiting game.

"I don't know why they leave it to be fair - just get it in," Mr Marris said. "We really want to encourage a board spectrum of our society to stand - and don't leave it until the last minute."

KDC governance services manager Sean Mahoney said despite the low turn out so far, he was "quietly optimistic" there would be a good pool by next Friday. The council had just held two well-attended candidate meetings, he said.

The election marked Kaipara district's return to elected leadership after four years under commissioners.

"There's a lot of noise around the election and people being interviewed in the local media saying they're going to [run]... So we think we'll get reasonable numbers coming forward," Mr Mahoney said.

Northland electoral officer Dale Ofsoske said the trend of coy candidates was echoed across the country this year. People sometimes strategised and opted for the "element of surprise", he said.

Others could be still making their minds up, working on their candidate statements, or checking out the competition, he said.

Mr Ofsoske was expecting a "flurry of activity next week", as per previous elections.

August 12 was also the final day people could enrol to vote in the September and October postal ballot, which would see Northlanders elect their district and regional councillors, as well as District Health Board members.

See elections.org.nz, free text your name and address to 3676, call 0800 367 656 or go to any PostShop if you have not received an election pack in the mail by now.

Prospective candidates should see the website of the relevant council.

- Northern Advocate

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