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New Zealand

Two Southern mayors to be re-elected unopposed


Two southern mayors look set to be re-elected automatically after standing unopposed in this year's local government elections.

Incumbent mayors Bryan Cadogan (Clutha) and Tracy Hicks (Gore) appear set to be remain in their roles for another three years following the closure of nominations at midday today.

Mr Cadogan will assume his chains of office for a fourth consecutive term, and Mr Hicks for a sixth.

While no-one was listed as challenging Gary Tong (Southland) early this afternoon, the Otago Daily Times understands a late challenger has emerged, meaning there will be a mayoral race.

Clutha

In Clutha, five of the eight council wards will also be elected without contest, after their respective vacancies were filled.

Catlins and Lawrence-Tuapeka wards' single vacancies will each be contested by two candidates, and Bruce Ward's three vacancies by four candidates.

Mel Foster is standing against incumbent councillor Geoff Blackmore in Lawrence, and Dane Catherwood against incumbent Hilary McNab, in Catlins.

Joining incumbent councillors Gaynor F​inch​, Bruce Vollweiler and Selwyn Wilkinson as a candidate for Bruce ward is newcomer Paul Hanlon.

The make-up of most other wards remains identical, except in Clinton, where former councillor Jo-anne Thomson replaces incumbent John Cochrane; and in Balclutha, where Wayne Felts will replace Rachel Jenkinson, who has stepped down.

Outside of Gore's uncontested mayoral race, voters will have ample choice this election.

Thirteen candidates have been nominated for a total of 11 council positions.

Central Otago

In Central Otago, an 11th hour nomination has created a two horse race for the mayoralty.

Incumbent Mayor Tim Cadogan will be challenged by first-term councillor Victoria Bonham, after her mayoralty nomination was announced at about noon today.

A flurry of other last minute nominations means there will be elections in various wards and community boards.

The Vincent and Cromwell wards of council, and Vincent, Cromwell, Teviot Valley and Maniototo community boards all have more nominations than seats.

Central Otago's other wards, as well as Central Otago Health Inc, received the required number of nominations to fill the necessary seats.

Waitaki

The mayoral race in the Waitaki district appears likely to be tighter than three years ago.

In 2016, Gary Kircher won a landslide victory receiving 6,814 votes to his lone challenger Stephen Wesselingh's 903.

This year Mr Kircher, first elected in 2013, faces two previously unelected candidates Katrina Hazelhurst and Paul Mutch.

The Oamaru ward has 14 candidates vying for six vacancies.

Former Queenstown Lakes district councillor Ross McRobie will be elected unopposed in the Ahuriri ward.

The Waihemo ward's incumbent councillor Jan Wheeler is being challenged by 2016 mayoral candidate Stephen Wesselingh, and newcomer Peter Newton.

Corriedale ward incumbents Bill Kingan and Guy Percival, who were in 2016 elected unopposed, are being challenged by Eugen Dupu.

Seven names have been put forward for five seats in the Waihemo Community Board contest, but the Ahuriri Community Board at 12.45pm today appeared set for a by-election as only four candidates had come forward for five vacancies.

Southern District Health Board 

The return of a democratically-elected Southern District Health Board has been greeted with enthusiasm, with 28 people being nominated for seven positions.

There are 17 candidates for the four Otago constituency positions, and 11 for the three Southland positions.

Notables running include outgoing Dunedin mayor Dave Cull, former MP Lesley Soper, former Central Otago mayor Malcolm Macpherson and recently retired SDHB medical officer of health Marion Poore.

The soon to be elected board will take over from a commissioners team, installed by the Government in 2015.

The SDHB has one of the largest deficits of the country's 20 health boards, and has recently come under scrutiny for its cancer treatment waiting lists and dysfunction in its gastroenterology department.

Otago Regional Council

The shock omission from the Otago Regional Council nominations list is three-term chairman and 15-year regional councillor Stephen Woodhead, who previously indicated he was likely to stand.

Overall, 28 people are running for the 12-seat council, up on 20 last year.

Most seats are hotly contested including the one-seat Moeraki, for which last election incumbent Doug Brown ran unopposed, which has four nominees including former Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton.

Five incumbent councillors have not put their name forward.

Invercargill

In Invercargill, New Zealand's longest serving mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt has three challengers:

Becs Amundsen, Steve Chernishov, and Darren Ludlow.

Queenstown Lakes District Council

There has been a last minute rush of nominations for Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Joining the already announced Wakatipu ward candidates are Niki Gladding, Peter Faul, A J Mason, and Dr Valerie Miller.

Over the hill in Wanaka, new candidates include Lincoln Haworth, Niamh Shaw, and Vicki Spearing.

Heath Copland will be elected unopposed in the Arrowtown ward.

As for the mayoralty, incumbent Jim Boult will face challenges from Al Angus and Nik Kiddle. 

Environment Southland

Seventeen people are running for 12 seats on Southland's regional council, Environment Southland.

Of its six constituencies, there will be an election in only one - the  Invercargill-Rakiura constituency, which covers Invercargill and Stewart Island, where 11 people are competing for six seats. 

The other constituencies had just the right number of candidates, other than Fiordland, where no nominations have yet been received for the one seat available. 

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