The race to be the Far North's next mayor has started already with more than eight months to go before election day.
Peter Gill, a former motoring journalist who lives in Waipapa, has announced his intention to stand, saying it was time to ''get away from these old councillors and start afresh''.
While Gill is the first to show his hand, several others — including Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes and councillor Dave Hookway — say they are giving it serious thought or are planning to make an announcement soon.
Gill was the only candidate to run against John Carter in the 2016 mayoral election, winning 4517 votes to Carter's 10,975. In last year's council byelection, Gill ran a close second to Kelly Stratford in the four-way contest with 1612 votes to her 1693.
Despite living in the Far North only since 2013, Gill said ''scores of people'' had come to him with tales of woe about their dealings with council staff.
"They know I am interested and concerned. They know that I believe that council staff have hijacked the organisation."
Infrastructure remained poor with many roads in a dangerous condition, he said.
''I know that council cannot fund a solution to everything instantly. I know also that parts of the North have gained hundreds, even thousands of new residents, but council seems unprepared to meet their growing needs.''
Councillors travelling to China while rural residents lived in dust storms on unsealed roads, and the ''spectacularly clumsy'' handling of the dog bylaw, had riled ratepayers, Gill said.
''A number of councillors have been there for quite a while ... I think it's time for a clean-out and a total re-start.''
Whoever ends up running this year it will almost certainly be a bigger field than in 2016, when John Carter would have been re-elected unopposed were it not for Gill's entry into the contest.
Carter couldn't be contacted yesterday but last month told the Advocate he would announce his intentions closer to the election.
Current Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes, of Paihia, said she had not yet made a final decision about running for the mayoralty but was giving it serious consideration.
Outspoken councillor Dave Hookway, of Waipapa, said he was planning to make an announcement about his intentions shortly; while councillor John Vujcich, of Kaikohe, said some people had asked him to stand but he had not yet decided.
''You really need to have the numbers, and I'm not sure how well known I am on the east side,'' Vujcich said.
Two other names which crop up in mayoral rumours are former Green MP David Clendon of Kerikeri, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2018 byelection, and councillor Ann Court of Waipapa.
Clendon said a few people had suggested he should run but he wasn't giving it serious consideration, while Court said she planned to stand for council but ''definitely not'' for the mayoralty.
Local government elections will be held on October 12. Nominations will open on July 9 and close at noon on August 16. The official list of candidates will be published on August 21; voting forms will be delivered on September 20-25.
Preliminary results will be released in the evening of October 12 with official results due to be published between October 17 and 23.