Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule has denied a claim made by one of his councillors that, if re-elected, he is planning to use the deputy mayor position for succession planning.
Councillor Simon Nixon, who is seeking re-election to the council, said he had been given the impression that Mr Yule was lining Damon Harvey up to be deputy mayor if he was re-elected to complete his next term.
Mr Yule, who is fighting for re-election in the face of competition from councillor Adrienne Pierce and local lawyer Guy Wellwood, denied the claim last night.
Mr Nixon said: "Lawrence plans to step down after his next term so he would have led the way for Damon to step in to his role if he elects him as deputy. I do not think this is how it should work . It should be up to the people of Hastings to decide."
"A succession might work in a company, a rigid organisation but not in a committee that is made up of individuals."
Mr Harvey said he had contemplated going for mayor after he was approached by several people to go for the position, but he decided to just go for council.
He denied that he was deterred from going for the mayoral role in hope that he could follow on from Mr Yule after he completed his final term.
"I had no interest in going against Lawrence for mayor. Experience and ambition are important to me and I started on Sport Hawke's Bay as a board member, gained experience and then progressed to deputy and then chairman," Mr Harvey said.
Mr Yule said he heard Mr Harvey had mayoral aspirations but told him it was important to gain experience on the council first before going in to the role.
He also denied the claims made that he was lining Mr Harvey up and said under the Local Government Amendment Act in 2012 you were not able to do so.
Mr Nixon said in a letter to the editor in Hawke's Bay Today yesterday that the mayor was able to choose his deputy as in 2013. This addition was made to part four of the act, which would give the mayor power to appoint the deputy mayor.
"Whilst there are circumstances where the deputy mayor or the chairpersons can be removed and replaced, this requires that the mayor declines to exercise the above rights," Mr Nixon said.
Mr Yule said Mr Nixon was wrong because the rest of the country differed to Auckland.
"In Auckland they are under a separate legislation and they are able to do that. For the rest of us the mayor is able to make an appointment but after one month the decision is able to be overturned by the other councillors," Mr Yule said.
He said therefore it would be important to get majority view and have full support from the council so it is not overturned.
Mr Nixon, who lost to Mr Yule in the last mayoral race in 2013, also accused Mr Yule of lining up Sandra Hazlehurst for the deputy role. Both Mr Yule and Mrs Hazlehurst denied this.
"There certainly has not been pre-arrangements and, like I have said before, whoever is elected will be consulted by mayor and voted on by the council," Mrs Hazlehurst said.
Ms Pierce said it was up to Mr Yule to decide how to choose his deputy, but she would, if elected, put it to the council for a decision.
Mayoral candidate Guy Wellwood said he had also heard the deal where Mr Harvey would become mayor once Mr Yule had completed his next term.
"I certainly will not be choosing my deputy mayor before being elected," Mr Wellwood said.
"I think it is a very important position and I think Simon is right in saying that the mayor does appoint their deputy mayor."