The local body election process is just starting and we already need a by-election in the Waitaki District.
Nominations for October’s local elections closed yesterday, with nobody willing to put themselves forward for the Ahuriri ward seat on the Waitaki District Council. Council electoral officer David Blair said that would mean a by-election would be required.
”When the [October] election is over we will have to have a by-election, which will include the Ahuriri Community Board, because we only got three [nominations] and we need five, and we will also include the Oamaru Licensing Trust ward 1, because we need three and we only got two.”
However, a by-election would not be held until the end of January or early February, he said. . .
When Alex Familton won both the mayoralty and a council seat six years ago the cost of the subsequent by-election in the Waihemo ward was given as between $5400 and $16,000, depending on whether a vote was needed.
It’s unlikely it will cost any less now.
That’s not a huge amount in terms of the council’s overall budget but it’s a cost that could have been avoided.
Publicity a few days ago before nominations closed could have highlighted the urgent need to find someone.
The retiring councillor could have found a successor, or at least ensured that the people in the ward knew they were in danger of being unrepresented.
The people in the ward, knowing their councillor wasn’t standing again, could have found someone to represent them.
And at least one of the seven of mayoral aspirants could have used the opportunity to demonstrate leadership by ensuring their was a full complement of candidates for every vacancy.
It is possible that had any or all of these been done no-one would have been willing to stand which raises a question – what happens if there’s no nominations for the by-election?