The wackiest candidates win our votes

By Julie Jacobson

Local body elections have always been tainted with ennui; the billboards, dull; the candidates' meetings even duller.

But for those prepared to dig below the murk, this year's crop of mayoral wannabes proved to be some of the best shows in town.

Making waves - or possibly up for a salute or three - on the Mainland was Kyle Chapman, former National Front leader standing under the National Democrats banner for Christchurch mayor.

His website spiel said: "I'm a patriot and a family man." On September 9 the site said: "Our candidate for Christchurch Mayor, Kyle Chapman is LEADING in an online public opinion poll." Followed by this on September 21: "I would like to be the first to congratulate Bob Parker for his Victory and being the New Mayor of Christchurch. We don't need to count the votes to know that he has the numbers to win. It is proven in history that Celebrities with Lots of Money will win based on their commonly known name."

Fellow Cantabrian Michael Hansen was also surely taking the mickey with his "Electric Schizophrenia" and "Sabotaged truck under Labour" tickets. His main thrust appeared to be replacing steel bus stop seats with wooden ones, ray guns, microwaves and fungal disease.

Also standing in the south, though for a place around the council table rather than for the top job, was Timaru's Karen Collings, whose public peeing display made headlines around the world.

She is now known, in some circles at least, as the weakest link, following her explanation of a dodgy bladder.

In the Capital there was Carl Gifford, a stonemason with a boulder fetish, and once decorated by the city council for his "sculpture park" - a mess of stone "art" at the entrance to the city's tip; young bus driver Nick Kelly, an erstwhile flag burning anarchist standing under the Workers' Party banner; and marketing consultant Paul Bailey, whose "Who is Paul Bailey?" slogan hardly inspired confidence in his marketing abilities, let alone his mayoral ones.

In the Grey Power strongholdof Kapiti, Robert Atack - middlename "Thankyoufornotbreeding" - ran a campaign based around peak oil and worm farms. Atack, convicted and fined $1500 for vandalising a National Party billboard during his Direct Democracy campaign in the run up to the 2005 general election, holds Wellington's daily newspaper responsible for much of what he describes as mistruths about peak oil. In 2004 he castigated MP Nandor Tanczos over the birth of his daughter, calling him irresponsible for bringing the child into a world on the verge of collapse.

Moving along, New Plymouth had as one of four mayoral aspirants,Sherril George, a Waitara woman who did inhale, and retired soldier and Treasure Island winner John "Horse" MacLeod.

Also up for election in New Plymouth was 65-year-old Trevor Creagh, the former Commonwealth gymnastics coach, convicted and fined $1000 four years ago for groping a girl's breast. The incident, he said in his profile, was behind him.

Fish featured too. Napier lawyer Clifford Church, the only bloke game enough to take on Napier's feisty first lady Barbara Arnott, dived into campaigning with a call for new dolphins for the tourist magnet Marineland. In Tauranga, candidate John Robson went fishing - angling his mayoral profile to get voters to give him the tick as a councillor, before voting him in as mayor in 2010. Cunning.

But for real eccentrics you had to turn to the Auckland mayoral race, where pole dancing (Steve Crow), unborn babies (Phil O'Connor), and stetsons (Lisa Prager), paled into insignificance beside this: "A vote for Scruff is a vote of no confidence", the slogan of the tattooed and pierced muso Scruff Ralph.

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