Waitaki District election results

October 12, 2013

The ODT reports Gary Kircher has been elected mayor of the Waitaki District, beating nearest rival Jim Hopkins by about 400 votes.

Eric Spittal polled 1024 votes, while David Wilson received 696 votes, Greg Smith 485, Helen Stead 404 and Fliss Butcher 144. 

Jim Hopkins (3309 votes), Hugh Perkins (3159), Melanie Tavendale (2996), Sally Hope (2932), Peter Garvan (2721) and Colin Wollstein (2648) will represent the Oamaru ward, while Kathy Dennison (583) won the right to represent the Waihemo ward.

William Kingan (906) and Sharyn Price (572) will represent the Corriedale ward.

The voter return rate was 55.43%.

This means long-serving councillor Helen Stead who also stood for mayor missed out on a seat on the council too.

Knowing your constituency

September 24, 2013

Waitaki District mayoral candidate Fliss Butcher is angry and showing it:

Oamaru Rotarians have been labelled ”rednecks” and ”like a meeting of the clan” by Waitaki mayoral and council candidate Fliss Butcher and her husband, Ian.

The outburst followed a candidates’ meeting last week, organised by the Rotary Club of Waitaki, when Mrs Butcher was refused extra time to introduce herself after she used most of her allocated one minute to deliver a mihi (greeting or welcome) in Maori. . .

Last Wednesday’s public meeting was for Oamaru and Corriedale ward candidates for the Waitaki District Council.

Yesterday, chairman and meeting adjudicator John Walker said after candidates started speaking for their minute, Mrs Butcher passed him a note asking for extra time so she could speak in Maori.

”After careful consideration, including equality for all candidates and especially those who had already spoken, I decided against it and wrote back to say she could use her minute as she wished,” he said. . .

I wasn’t at this meeting but at an earlier meet the mayoral candidates forum Butcher chose to begin her introduction with a mihi.

I am familiar enough with them to get the gist of what she said but from comments afterwards am sure I was one of very few who did. Lots of people said if she’d known her audience she would have given a brief translation.

Maybe she was going to do that at the Rotary forum which is why she requested extra time.

However the report gives the impression it wasn’t about the audience but about her:

. . . ”We have the Treaty of Waitangi and if I want to speak in Maori to ground myself and feel better before making my introduction, I am entitled to do so, as the other candidates are.” . . .

We do have a treaty and she is free to speak in any language she chooses and do what she wants to ground herself – within the time allotted.

If she needed more time she ought to have consulted the organisers before the forum and she admits that:

Mrs Butcher acknowledged it was ”probably my fault” she had not raised the extra time before the meeting, but said she was granted extra time during a Waitaki mayoral forum. . . 

Federated Farmers held a forum for mayoral and Corriedale ward candidates last night.

She didn’t do a mihi but she was asked a question over a dispute she’d had with the community water scheme some years ago.

The ODT rated Dunedin City Councillors, gave her 5/10 and noted:

Erratic performer who started the term by walking out part-way through the incoming council’s first meeting and launching a scathing attack on mayor Dave Cull’s appointments, accusing him of gender and political bias.

Took a leave of absence while grappling with personal issues, and skipped part of the 2011 budget process for ”nanny duties”, but fended off calls to resign by announcing she would not seek re-election.

Bounced back later in the term but remained prone to sudden outbursts of snarling criticism, applause and even hissing in meetings. . .

Her reaction to her request for extra time does nothing to contradict the impression this gives that she wouldn’t be a good mayor or councillor.

Knowing your constituency is a basic requirement for people seeking election and her behaviour show she doesn’t.

Meeting the candidates

September 3, 2013

Extra seats had to be brought in to the Opera House’s Ink Box to cope with the crowd at the forum for the seven candidates seeking the Waitaki mayoralty organised by the Otago Chmaber of Comemrce and Otago Daily times last week.

Last night’s forum, organised by the Oamaru Mail, was in the Opera House’s main auditorium and attracted about 200 people. That’s a good crowd in a small town for such an event.

The meeting started promptly at the advertised time of 7pm. Chair Phil Hope said it would finish on the dot of 9pm and it did.

Each candidate was given a couple of minutes to introduce themselves and their vision for the District then had a minute each to answer questions which had been sent in by Mail readers.

Most of the focus was on generalities.

Federated Farmers is organising a forum with a rural focus later in the month.

The seven candidates are Fliss Butcher, Jim Hopkins, Gary Kircher, Greg Smith, Eric Spittal, Helen Stead and David Wilson.

No-one disgraced themselves but I think three showed they didn’t have the knowledge and ability required for the job.

If you were just going on performance last night, I don’t think there was a lot between the other four.

But if the grapevine is reliable there are two front runners – Hopkins, who is the current deputy, and Kircher, a former deputy who stood against the current mayor, Alex Familton,  three years ago.

He made it an all or nothing bid, wasn’t successful and is again standing only for mayor while Hopkins is also standing for council.

Both have different strengths, both have different weaknesses.

One question asked was about economic development.

I regard local government’s role in that as similar to central government’s – it should have policies which make it easy for people to do business, within whatever boundaries are necessary, and leave them to do it.

I don’t think local body politicians and bureaucrats are any better at picking winners than central ones and I don’t want them trying with ratepayers’ money.

At local level, a how-can-we-help council culture rather than a you-have-to-do-this one would be a good start.

Another question asked them what they’d do with their day jobs if they were successful.

All said being mayor would be their day jobs which highlights an issue.

The position of mayor of a geographically large district with a small population (about 20,000 people) and therefore small rating base doesn’t pay much.

Those who hark back to the days when being mayor was part-time and unpaid might say it pays too much.

But if the role has to be a full time one, a lot of people who aren’t retired, don’t have businesses which can run without them, or who have no other income, would think it doesn’t pay enough.

Either one or t’other not both

July 14, 2013

Dunedin City Councillor Fliss Butcher plans to contest the Waitaki District mayoralty and stand as a councillor in the Corriedale ward.

Success in both would trigger a by-election in the ward.

This is what happened when the sitting mayor, Alex Familton who isn’t standing again, first became the mayor. He also stood, and was elected, as a councillor in the Waihemo ward so his success as mayor necessitated an immediate by-election at a cost of some tens of thousands of dollars.

Butcher shouldn’t risk putting ratepayers to that expense again.

She should stand for one position or t’other, not both.

Spot the flaw

November 14, 2010

Dunedin City Councillor Fliss Butcher is upset she was not appointed chair of the council’s planning and environment committee.

Only the cost of a by-election has stopped Dunedin City Councillor Fliss Butcher resigning from the council she was elected to just over a month ago. She says she has been sidelined and that part of the reason is that she is a woman. . .

There is however, a flaw in that argument – the person who was appointed to chair the committee is Kate Wilson who is also a woman.

. . . Cr Butcher claims being a woman counted against her.

“I see it as a gender issue for me particularly because I’m a feminist and I’m well known to be a feminist. . .

I’m not sure if Kate identifies a feminist. But she’s an intelligent, articulate, energetic woman who appears to have all the skills needed to do the job to which she’s been appointed.

Fliss was offered the position of deputy but turned it down and it’s now held by Teresa Stevenson who is also a woman.

That doesn’t look like sexism on the part of the mayor, Dave Cull, unless it’s tokenism but the abilities of the people concerned should allay any fears about that.

No way without a willy

August 21, 2008

The headline DCC councillors ‘need a willy to progress’ – Butcher  was guaranteed to get media attention, but is she right?

“You have to have a willy to get anywhere in this council.”

That was Dunedin city councillor Fliss Butcher’s reaction this week after she was overlooked for the role of council appointee on the advisory board of the University of Otago’s centre for entrepreneurship council.

She says sexism is behind the decision – a claim hotly denied last night by Mayor Peter Chin.

I don’t know enough about this particular case or the DCC in general to know if her claim of sexism is fair.

But if it is there are better ways to go about countering it than having a public tantrum.

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