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Council apathy in Feathy

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
[email protected]

Five days before nominations close to find a new Featherston ward councillor for South Wairarapa District Council, nobody seems to want the job.

A vacancy was left on the council when first-term councillor Dayle Harwood quit last month, citing a lack of confidence in Mayor Viv Napier and chief executive Paul Crimp.

Nominations for the vacant position opened on April 16 and close at noon on Monday, May 14, but no one has yet put their name forward.

Whoever takes on the challenge will received an annual remuneration package of $16,789.

If there is only one candidate, the position will automatically go to them, but if no nominations are received, the council will have to re-advertise the role.

If more than one person is nominated, a by-election will take place on July 10.

Despite the apparent lack of interest, electoral officer Warwick Lampp said last-minute nominations were not uncommon.

“Usually, we might not get anything until the last two or three days, and sometimes until the last morning, and even in the last 10 minutes,” he said.

Mr Harwood said he was surprised no one had yet stepped up, believing now would be a good time to join the council.

“They’ve got a council that’s not so new and they don’t have to charge through the Annual Plan and Long Term Plan . . . it would be an easier time to become part of the scene.”

But Mr Harwood said a councillor was only as good as the hours they put into the job.

Perry Cameron was a candidate for the Featherston ward in the 2016 local body elections, but said he was not throwing his hat in the ring this time round.

He is awaiting the outcome of the enquiry into the council’s vacant lot of commercial land on Fitzherbert St, and said other possible candidates may be holding off until questions had been answered.

Featherston Community Board chairwoman Robyn Ramsden said community members considering running had raised concerns about the council workload and the fact they were already working full-time jobs.

Featherston ward councillor Lee Carter was also surprised to hear there were no nominees, but said a lot could happen in five days and she was “hopeful”.

“I thought it would have been a good opportunity for someone with fresh eyes and passion for change to take part in shaping our town and the wider district.”

She said the council was working through some challenges currently.

“But that makes it all the more exciting to be a part of.

“In my view, it’s a role that requires a strong sense of duty and good leadership.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said people may be waiting to see who they were up against before putting their names forward.

Often nominees came through in the final hours before the deadline, Mrs Napier said.

Nominations must be made on the appropriate form, with printed copies available from the council office in Martinborough.

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