The big news earlier this week was the surprising (or maybe not so surprising) reversal by incumbent Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler of his decision to run for a third term in office.

Mr Butler had thrown his hat in the ring to have another go, but clearly his heart wasn't in it. I have seen him a couple of times recently and I must say I was surprised at his philosophical approach to winning or losing the election. With young contender Waipukurau businesswoman Alex Walker shaping up as a serious threat, he probably thought he did not need the stress in his life.

Who can blame him - he has had a bit of a tough time lately (some of his own doing) and, as he says, he will be nearly 70 at the end of the next local government term.

Mr Butler is a larger-than-life character and has never been backward in coming forward. He certainly is not afraid of speaking his mind.


He formed quite a formidable team with Wairoa Mayor Craig Little and Mayor of Napier Bill Dalton in fending off attempts to amalgamate our local councils. They did this by appealing to community spirit and tapping into the fears people had about their town or city losing its identity.

It was most effective, but that, and his style over the years, has probably also earned him some enemies in his district. But, as he told this paper, maybe it is also time for a change.

With Ms Walker now the only candidate for the top job, it would be good for democracy if someone else puts their hand up to run against her.

By all accounts she has a lot going for her, but it is always better for someone to win the job of mayor rather than simply be handed it - especially a first-termer.