Suzanne Prentice has confirmed the rumours – she is standing for the Invercargill mayoralty.
In a media statement she said:
“I want to bring a fresh, energetic and focused approach and to afford the position of mayor the dignity which it deserves,” she said.
“I have thought long and hard about standing and keep finding myself concerned for the future of our city, its residents and its ratepayers.
“I want to take Invercargill forward and to lead an inspired, united, and focused council which strives to build a vibrant and prosperous city.”
Ms Prentice said she had been overwhelmed at the tremendous support and encouragement she had received from many concerned residents in regard to her standing.
“I thank every one of them for putting their trust in me and I want them to know that I will take their views forward as I now officially confirm my intention to stand.”
It was now time to focus on the future of the city, she said.
“We have some very experienced councillors with a great deal to offer. Unfortunately the distractions of the past two to three years have, to a certain degree, detracted from the positive work which they have done.
“Given the right leadership and direction, I believe we can build a cohesive team which puts its energy into what is best for Invercargill.
“I also have enormous respect for the employees of the Invercargill City Council, their work continues to be a credit to them all, sometimes in trying circumstances.”
Ms Prentice said she would be honoured to be the mayor of Invercargill
“I consider myself to be a true Southlander – my heart and my home are in this city and my family have had a long and proud association with Invercargill.”
Her father was born in Invercargill and after the war he and his English bride returned and made it their home.
“This was the place where they raised their three children, just as my husband Stephen and I have done with our children, Blair and Andrea, and as our son Blair continues to do with his wife Vanessa.
“We are a true and loyal Invercargill family,” she said, “and I know that I have their support as I embark on this new and important journey.”
Tim Shadbolt is an experienced and wily campaigner. Until now I would have thought the Invercargill mayoralty was his as long as he wanted it.
But the last term has been difficult and if anyone can beat him it would be Suzanne. She is a born and bred Southlander, is very well known through her career as a singer and her community work and has served an apprenticeship in local body politics on the Invercargill Licensing Trust.
Busted Blonde who know a lot more about Southland than I do, gives her view on the mayoral race here.
Prentice’s announcement is the first official indication of any challenge to incumbent mayors in the south.
However, that may change.
The stadium has been very controversial in Dunedin and that may persuade someone to challenge sitting mayor Peter Chin. However, a would-be mayor has to do more than stand against something, s/he needs to stand for something too.
Concerns over the Otago Regional Council have been nowhere near as serious as those afflicting Environment Canterbury, but there may be enough dissatisfaction to drive a campaign against the chair and some sitting councillors.
Waitaki mayor Alex Familton has yet to announce his intentions but if I was a betting woman I’d put a little money on him standing again.
The grapevine has mentioned deputy mayor Gary Kircher and sitting councillor Jim Hopkins as possible contenders for the mayoralty, but is less sure about whether they would challenge Alex if he stands again.