Taupō’s deputy mayor is running against the mayor for a second crack at the district’s top job.
The mayoralty is a three-horse race, NZME Taupō editor Daniel Hutchinson told the Herald’s political podcast On The Tiles – Local Edition.
Those vying for the mayoralty are incumbent David Trewavas, current deputy mayor Christine Rankin and newcomer Sean Wakelin.
Trewavas has already had three terms as mayor.
On the campaign trail, Trewavas has been talking about unfinished business with high-profile projects in various stages of construction including transforming the town centre and upgrading the airport, Hutchinson said.
“He says Taupō is in the middle of a transformation period and needs a steady and experienced hand because the population has grown by about 10 per cent in the last four years or so,” Hutchinson said.
This is the second time Rankin has challenged the incumbent for the mayoralty.
“So this is not new for the two of them to be slugging it out for the top job,” Hutchinson said.
“They’re quite professional about how they do things and they can certainly work together well after the election regardless of what happens.”
Rankin has pitched her leadership credentials after a long stint in local government and being the former chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development in the late 1990s, he said.
Hutchinson said Wakelin was probably the least well-known of the three contenders.
He has sold real estate and owned several small businesses including the former Volcanic cafe.
Wakelin has pitched his business experience as knowing what it takes to survive, Hutchinson said.
“He also says his lack of experience on the council is actually an advantage because he has not been trained to limit his expectations.”
Taupō District Council decided to establish one district-wide Māori Ward, Te Papamārearea, in time for local body elections. There are two vacancies.
This is after the Government abolished a law that allowed local referendums to veto decisions by councils to establish Māori wards.
New Zealand Herald political reporter Michael Neilson told the podcast that before the law change, 24 councils had tried to establish Māori wards but only three were successful.
“If you look at the stats since then, you’ve got 35 councils now with Māori wards. So, clearly, the councils were seeking that and it’s had an impact already.”
Neilson said the bill was passed under urgency to allow the wards to be set up in time for this year’s local body elections.