Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Lack of candidates leaves Auckland unable to create a full council

Len Brown during the Auckland Council Unitary Plan meeting. Photo / Dean Purcell
Len Brown during the Auckland Council Unitary Plan meeting. Photo / Dean Purcell

Councils are hoping a flurry of last-minute candidates for local body elections will step up today, with many short of nominations to fill positions as of last night.

The deadline for nominations closes at midday, but by late yesterday evening in Auckland, there were not enough candidates to create a full council.

Only one person had put their hand up for the two seats available in the Manurewa-Papakura ward, and one for the two seats on the North Shore wards.

And in the Albany, Franklin, Manukau, Orakei and Rodney wards, candidates look likely to get in uncontested as the number of nominees matches positions available.

In Albany, former league coach Graham Lowe and current Upper Harbour local board member Lisa Whyte face no contest for the two seats in the ward.

Local boards are in even worse shape - five areas don't have enough nominees to make the cut, and seven have just enough so the candidates will be uncontested.

Auckland is not the only council stretched finding candidates.

In Otago, electoral officers said nominations were particularly slow and on Tuesday Dunedin's community boards had only 10 nominations for 30 positions.

In Christchurch, nine ward and three community board seats would go uncontested, and one community board has only one nomination for two seats.

For Tauranga City Council, the Te Papa-Welcome Bay ward had two nominees for two vacancies yesterday, though all other positions were well contested. And the Waikato District Council took to Twitter this year to encourage people to stand.

Dale Ofsoske, managing director of Election Services which runs the city's elections, said if by midday today not enough nominations had been received for the positions, a by-election would be held for the remaining spots on February 17, 2017.

Ofsoske said if, following this, no one was elected to council, the process must be repeated until the vacancy was filled.

He said this had not happened for Auckland Council (or its predecessor Auckland City Council) before.

"It has, however, occurred in other territorial authorities."

The process was slightly different for local boards, where the positions could be filled by appointment or by-election, Ofsoske said.

If candidates for local boards or wards were unopposed, they would be elected.

Ofsoske said that in 2013, a flurry of late nominations came in - with 44 per cent being received in the last two days.

Yesterday a surge of last-minute nominations were lodged.

"We expect another busy morning before nominations close," Ofsoske said.

"We do not expect there to be any by-elections required next year due to lack of nominations."

In the Howick ward in 2013, Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart were elected unopposed, and Cameron Brewer was elected unopposed in Orakei last election.

There are seven local boards where, if no one steps up today, nominees are guaranteed the job.

Those are both Albert-Eden subdivisions, Franklin's Wairoa subdivision, Mangere-Otahuhu, Manurewa, Maungakiekie-Tamaki's Maungakiekie subdivision and Rodney's Dairy Flat subdivision.

Of the 35 licensing trust positions available, only 30 candidates had come forward as of yesterday afternoon. And 40 people are nominated for the 21 spots on the region's three district health boards. Overall, 231 nominations have been received for 170 positions as ward and local board councillors.

- NZ Herald

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