Three men have stepped forward to challenge incumbent Allan Sanson for the Waikato District mayoralty.
Newcastle ward councillor Noel Smith has announced his bid for the mayoral chains and will be joined on the hustings trail by Huntly stalwart and community board chair Frank McInally and political newcomer Bruce Cameron.
Mr Sanson has confirmed he will seek a second term as mayor, reports the Waikato Times.
Mr Smith, who has served two terms on council, said there was a lack of cohesion among the council’s elected wing.
“Primarily I think the style of leadership we currently have isn’t bringing the council together,” he said.
“Divisions have become apparent and there isn’t the unity there needs to be. There isn’t a feeling councillors know what’s going on. With the new powers mayors are going to get, we need to ensure everybody is included in decision-making.”
Mr Smith, who chairs the council’s roading and transport committee, has previously worked as district manager for the Ministry of Justice in Hamilton and served 14 years on the police.
He also breeds pedigree hereford cattle on his farm.
Mr Smith said he had been involved in efforts to make the council more accountable to ratepayers and believed significant gains had been made in the past three years.
“I think customer service levels are starting to improve and when the chief executive is finished with his restructuring the culture that will be embedded will be one of customer service.”
Mr McInally said he was heartened by his mayoral bid at the 2010 local government elections, picking up 2311 votes.
“Public demand” had encouraged him to have a second crack at the top job.
His public profile had also received a timely boost after his idea of lighting up Huntly’s Deka sign capture national headlines.
“I think the fact I’m not a farmer will help my campaign. Don’t get me wrong, the last two mayors [Allan Sanson and Peter Harris] have done a good job but there’s a bit more to life than farmers; we have a different outlook on life.”
Mr McInally, who owns a car painting business, said his campaign theme would be based on council accountability.
“The mayoral race could be a lolly scramble at the end of the day because you might have a split vote with three farmers standing.”
Mr McInally would also seek re-election to the Huntly community board.
Glen Murray farmer Bruce Cameron said his political inexperience could be a major attraction with voters.
He said the council’s “do as we say” culture had upset a lot of residents in the district’s north, in particular the livestock movement bylaw which came into force over the entire district in July last year.
The bylaw prohibits moving stock in urban areas or on public roads which have more than 2000 vehicles a day.
“The livestock movement bylaw was a classic example of the council not listening,” Mr Murray said.
“I want ratepayers to get more involved in council’s decisions and see the community come on board a lot more.
“I want to see the council make better use of community boards because they represent the community’s identity and they know what’s going on.
“Waikato sits between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga so there’s going to be a lot of development in our district in the future and we need to give people a chance to have their say,” he said.
Anyone wishing to stand as a candidate for mayor, council or community boards should get their nominations in before noon on August 16.