Big f ield in elections race

By Janna Sherman

With four hats in the ring, the fight for the Westland mayoralty has not been so hotly contested since 2001.
Deputy Mayor Bryce Thomson joined in the race late last week, joining Kyle Scott, Jacquie Grant and Mike Havill.
However, that is still short of the highest number of challengers — seven — in the 1998 elections, when long-serving mayor Durham Havill stepped aside.
In 2004, disbarred Hokitika lawyer Mohammed Shahadat retired before the election making it a game of three between then mayor John Drylie, Maureen Pugh and Margaret Moir.
Since clinching the reins then, Mrs Pugh has only been challenged once, by Peter Davidson, in the 2010 elections.
Competition for the Hokitika ward is also at a crescendo — with the largest pool of contenders in 15 years. A total of eight candidates will vie for just three seats, instead of the previous four.
Crs Jim Butzbach and Frances Stapleton are seeking re-election, while the current fourth Hokitika ward representative, Kyle Scott, has instead made a stab for mayoralty.
Three of the new candidates are part of his Westland’s Future team — mother Sonja Barker, former Westland Business Unit chairman Mark Mellsop-Melssen and Regent Theatre chairman Bruce
Westland Ratepayers and Residents Association chairman Gray Eatwell, student teacher Latham Martin, and Development West Coast chief financial officer Mark Dawson make up the rest of the field.
The southern and northern wards are also well represented.
With Cr Thomson instead seeking the mayoral chains, five fresh faces have come forward for the southern ward — Pauline Cox, Mary Molloy, Barbara O’Neill-Nolan, David Hope and Des Routhan.
They will battle it out for the two vacant seats, instead of the previous three.
In the northern ward three seats will be fought for by all existing councillors, Neil Bradley, Kees van Beek and Murray Montagu, as well as council watchdogs Hugh Cameron and Anthea Keenan, and Andrea Jackson, who is part of the Westland’s Future team.
The Westland election field is the largest in the West Coast ballot.
Campaigning has already started to ramp up, with placards popping up around town, and newspaper campaign notices beginning to