Whangarei Mayor not seeking re-election

By Sophie Ryan -
Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth has chosen to make his health his top priority. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth has chosen to make his health his top priority. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth said he will not stand for re-election at the October election choosing to focus on his health instead.

He told Whangarei District Council yesterday that he and wife Jillian have decided their health needs to be their priority in the coming years.

"Although it saddens us to relinquish positions we have grown to enjoy and cherish, we are accepting of that reality," he said.

Mr Cutforth spoke with a voice full of emotion about the stroke he suffered in February 2011 which led him to take four months' leave to recover.

"If there could be a silver lining to this debilitating event for me, it would be that I was forced to trust these (councillors) and their capabilities, and I'm mighty glad I did," he said.

"My perspective changed very quickly and for the better, and I came to appreciate that council comprises a bunch of extremely hard working, talented, and community-minded souls who just want to do their best for their community."

He described himself as a cheerleader for the district and roused the councillors, public gallery and police area commander Inspector Tracy Phillips to a few rounds of cheering "Whangarei, love it here!"

Mr Cutforth said there is plenty to be done before his final council meeting in September, where he will make a more in-depth statement, sharing his highlights of the past three years, give thanks to important people and present his views on Whangarei's future.

"I want to reassure everyone of my commitment to keeping my mind and heart on the mayoral role until I hand back the chains of office in October."

Mr Cutforth is not the only figure to be leaving the council chambers from October.

Okara Ward Councillor Aaron Edwards has also announced he will not stand for re-election, after consultation family and friends, he said.

"I have enjoyed the opportunity to represent my community and I leave satisfied that I have done this to the best of my ability. My time in council, while sometimes frustrating, has been ultimately rewarding."

Mr Edwards said he appreciated the support of his community when "sticking his neck out" on issues such as the Hundertwasser art centre, the second harbour crossing and the annexation of Mander Park.

"I am proud of the modest achievements I have made," he said.

Mr Edwards said he will leave Whangarei at the end of his term, and urges voters to scrutinise candidates and vote wisely.

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