By PATRICK GOWER
Papakura is looking for a new mayor after David Hawkins officially announced his resignation at a council meeting last night.
His decision comes just a month after telling the Herald that he would definitely see out his term until next October, saying that an early resignation "would be a very underhanded way of doing things."
"Look, every day is a new day," Mr Hawkins said last night.
"Basically, mayoral campaigns have begun already and I do not think it is good for Papakura or the council to have these going on for a year. It is as simple as that."
The people of Papakura will go to polls on November 25 to choose a new mayor at a byelection.
Mr Hawkins said his earlier decision to stand aside at the election in October next year had flushed out a number of candidates and had begun a "destructive" race for the mayoralty in the council. "Quite frankly, one has to ask why some of them are there.
"I cannot think of a single thing they have done for the good of Papakura and that saddens me.
"I think the public have woken up to them and they will be given the message come October."
During his term the council was characterised by acrimony and infighting, massive cost-cutting and corporatisation - most controversially of the water supply.
"I guess I will be out there looking for a job ... But my first priority is getting my golf handicap down."
Last night opposing councillors said that Mr Hawkins' resignation was a setup designed to help the electoral chances of councillor Alan Bell, known as "the mayor's lieutenant" by opposing councillors.
"He set this up to give Alan Bell the best strategic position," said councillor Steve Bayliss.
"He has probably got his advertising hoardings ready to go."
Mr Bell denied the resignation was a setup.
He applauded Mr Hawkins' three terms as mayor.
"He will be remembered as a forward thinker, someone who was prepared to make decisions.
"He was always ready to think outside the local government square, so to speak."
Deputy Mayor Vivienne Pollock and councillors Katrina Piggott, David Wright and Ross Vickery have indicated that they will stand.
Ann Martin, the relative unknown who stood against Mr Hawkins at the last election and slashed his majority by 5500 votes, was also considering standing.