The election to decide who will lead the Western Bay of Plenty District for the next three years is off to a slow start with potential candidates all remaining tight lipped.

Even the incumbent, Mayor Ross Paterson, was non-committal. "I have made no decision. There is still another eight months of this term to go."

The contest for the Western Bay was in stark contrast to Tauranga where the Mayor Stuart Crosby's decision to not seek re-election sparked declarations from councillors Kelvin Clout and John Robson, ex-councillor Murray Guy and Trustpower's community relations manager Graeme Purches that they would be going for the top job.

Only one of Mr Paterson's two opponents for the mayoralty in 2013 indicated he was a possible contender this year. Mark Boyle said he had been encouraged by a number of people but it was still a long way out.


Mr Paterson's other opponent in 2013, Councillor Don Thwaites, said he was seeking re-election for the council but not the mayoralty.

Four Western Bay councillors indicated they had not ruled out the possibility of contesting the mayoralty.

Councillor Sue Matthews announced that she was standing down. "Nine years is enough. It is time for someone else to have a turn ... I don't want to become old and crusty in there."

Maketu-Te Puke councillor Kevin Marsh, who had served five terms, was the only other incumbent to say that he had not made a decision to re-stand.

Councillor John Scrimgeour said he would probably stand again. "It is a wee way off, but it is likely." Quizzed on whether he would consider the mayoralty, he said "I'm pretty sure that is a no."

Councillor Karyl Gunn-Thomas, who has lived in Te Puke since 1986, said she would stand for the Maketu-Te Puke Ward, but was "absolutely not" interested in the mayoralty.

Councillor Margaret Murray-Benge said she intended to stand again because there was still work to be done. As for the mayoralty, she responded that all options were open. "I'm not saying yes or no. I will take a look and see if the people that stand are the best we can get."

Kaimai Ward councillor Garry Webber said he would like to do another term as councillor, saying he wanted to achieve a more regional approach.

As for the mayoralty, he said it was not at the top of his mind right now, but there was a need for a change. He said Mr Crosby and Mr Paterson had served the area incredibly well for many years and maybe it was time for a change. "It is a bit too soon for me to consider mayoral aspirations."

Deputy mayor Gwenda Merriman said she would be standing for the council at the next election. As for the mayoralty, she replied "I will be considering all options going forward over the next few months."

Katikati-Waihi Beach ward's Mike Williams said he had not made a firm decision but it was more likely that he would stand than not. He might be swayed if a really great fresh young person came along.

Mr Williams said he had not considered the mayoralty "at this point in time."

Councillor Peter Mackay said he would put himself forward for the council.

Councillor Ross Goudie said it was a "yes" for the council and a "no" for the mayoralty.

Key dates for 2016 council and health board elections:

* July 1: Electoral Enrolment Centre campaign starts.

* July 15: Nominations open for candidates.

* August 12: Nominations close and electoral rolls close.

* September 16-21: Voting papers delivered.

* October 8: Polling day and declaration of preliminary results.

* October 13-19: Official results declared.