For the past two years Hastings District Council has been racked with change with two elections, and soon to be three by-elections keeping things interesting for the district's elected representatives.

Since the 2016 local body elections, the council has seen a new mayor, two new deputy mayors, and five new councillors join the table - with correlating departures.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said "our council has been through a lot of change over the past year, which I believe has created a more united and more inclusive council".

"By-elections bring new energy and positive change to our council team. Through the election process candidates engage with the community, bringing into council new ideas and a new perspective."

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She added change had enabled the council to also consider a new governance structure that better aligns councillor's skills with council priorities.

In a routine that has become very familiar, Hastings voters will now return to the polls for a third by-election.

This succession of by-elections, triggered by the departure of two council members shortly after being re-elected is estimated to have cost Hastings ratepayers nearly $220,000.

2016 Local Election

Changes in the guard began with the 2016 Local Government election, which saw four new councillors elected - Ann Redstone, Bayden Barber, Damon Harvey, and Geraldine Travers.

Despite angst directed toward Lawrence Yule after the Havelock North gastro crisis, which occurred two months before the election, he was re-elected for another term.

Vocal councillor Wayne Bradshaw stood unsuccessfully for re-election, while Mick Lester and John Roil did not stand again.

A notable departure was that of Cynthia Bowers, who had been deputy mayor to Mr Yule since 2001, but unsuccessfully stood for election to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Her deputy mayor role was filled by then re-elected Hastings-Havelock North councillor Sandra Hazlehurst.

2017 General Election

Just eight months after being re-elected in the 2016 Local Government elections, Lawrence Yule and councillor Adrienne Pierce vacated their respective roles to stand for parliamentary seats for the National Party.

From June they took several months of unpaid leave, with Mrs Hazlehurst being promoted to acting mayor while Mr Yule contested and successfully won the Tukituki electorate.

Ms Pierce lost the Palmerston North race to incumbent Iain Lees-Galloway.

Mayoral/Councillor By-Election

For 13 candidates, the day after the September 23 election was when they were able to come out of the woodwork to contest in simultaneous by-elections to fill Ms Pierce's seat on council, and find Mr Yule's successor.

When the votes were counted in November, Hastings businesswoman Wendy Schollum was elected as the new councillor beating a pool of six other contenders - Eileen Lawson, Bruce Bisset, Rizwaana Latiff, Jason Whaitiri, Waitawhara Tupaea, and Rion Ruben.

Of the six hoping to become Hastings' next mayor, half were councillors - Mr Bayden Barber, Mrs Hazlehurst, and then acting deputy mayor Simon Nixon. They were joined by 19 year old Waitawhara Tupaea, unsuccessful 2017 Tukituki contender Allister Tosh, and former council employee Stuart Perry.

With the three councillors being the top contenders in the mayoral race, it was likely another by-election would be on the cards.

This came to pass when Hastings elected Mrs Hazlehurst as its first woman mayor.
Councillor Tania Kerr became deputy mayor - the first women leadership duo for the council.

Upcoming by-election

Now the voting papers are being sent out once again, with the results of the district's third by-election to be known in April.

Mrs Hazlehurst said their current councillors were working hard, and were looking forward to having a full council.

"With eight experienced councillors and six first-term councillors, I believe we will have a well balanced and supportive team.

"We encourage everyone who is eligible to vote, to vote for a new councillor who will bring new energy and make a positive difference to our community."

There are some familiar faces among the candidates, with half of the six unsuccessful contenders from the last councillor by-election preparing to have another go - Bruce Bisset, Rion Ruben, and Eileen Lawson, who came in about 300 votes behind Mrs Schollum last year.

They are joined by Chris Perley, who stood in the 2016 election for the Hastings/Havelock North ward, Stuart Perry, who was unsuccessful in the mayoral by-election, and Alezix Heneti, who has run for mayor in Hamilton twice, the Northland district once and Auckland council once.

As well as bringing change, these three by-elections have come at a cost - $219,869.

A council spokeswoman said the combined cost of the mayoral and councillor by-election process was $130,869.

The estimated cost of the upcoming councillor election was about $89,000.

-Hastings and Havelock North residents can prepare for the by-election by checking that their details on the electoral roll are accurate. Only those living and/or owning property in the Hastings-Havelock North ward will receive voting papers.