Editorial: Short term may come into play

By Craig Cooper

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Far North mayor Wayne Brown
Far North mayor Wayne Brown

Odd, that many of the candidates in the upcoming local body elections may not be aware that they could only be serving two years if elected next month.

Even odder that voters are not aware. And very odd that Electoral Services, which runs Northland local body elections, was not aware.

A two-year term would allow the transition into a unitary authority - if, of course, it happens - and a four-year term would follow, to bring the north back into line with the rest of the country's election cycle.

It's not exactly a secret - Far North mayor Wayne Brown was the catalyst for the unitary authority debate, and Northlanders will be presented with some options for future governance after the election. It will mean the dismantling of Northland's existing councils and boundaries, and reassembly into whatever option is deemed best.

The options include the status quo, two unitary authorities based on the current Far North and Whangarei/Kaipara boundaries (as favoured by the Far North and Whangarei district councils) or a single unitary authority covering all of Northland.

The Northland Regional Council wants a single authority but with seven genuinely empowered local boards.

So in a nutshell, this year's candidates may only be applying for a job for two years.

Anyone who didn't know, and wants to adjust their campaign message, still has time. And voters - as one candidate put it, a giant interview panel - can take it into account as well.

The main difference it may make to voters, is their consideration as to whether the elected representatives have the knowledge and ability to make sure the right thing is done by the region in terms of any change, and then do they have the ability to see it through?

A small, subtle consideration, but one that could make a difference, particularly in the mayoral contests in the Far North and Whangarei.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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