Kelliher, Forbes to stand for ward seats

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PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

Two contenders have put their hands up for Dunstan ward seats on the Otago Regional Council (ORC) so far, but other sitting councillors are yet to announce whether they will seek re-election.

Former regional councillor Gary Kelliher, of Alexandra, and sitting Queenstown Lakes district councillor Alexa Forbes have both said they will seek one of the three Dunstan seats.

Sitting regional councillors Graeme Bell and Michael Laws have said they are undecided. Sitting councillor Ella Lawton is not seeking re-election, as she is moving from Wanaka to Invercargill to be with her partner.

Mr Kelliher, who was the first to announce he was standing for election, was a regional councillor from 2013 to 2016 but lost two subsequent elections, edged out by Michael Laws by five votes in a recount in 2016 and losing to Ella Lawton in a by-election in June 2017, triggered by the death of her mother, Maggie Lawton.

Mr Kelliher said one of his key goals if elected would be “to ensure communities are heard, and balanced sustainable outcomes are achieved that are a win-win for environment and local/regional economy”. There were many critical issues that required “sustainable future-proofed decision-making by governors prepared to judge on fact and detail, not personal opinion and rhetoric or agenda”.

Cr Forbes has served two terms on the Queenstown district council, being first elected in 2013.

In a press release she said she saw the next regional council term as “pivotal” for the region.

“Over the next three years, ORC will set the environmental direction of our communities for years to come. It’s critical that its approach engages inclusively with all sectors of the region’s communities and that strategies such as the regional water plan are supported by a well-resourced science base.”

Broad regional engagement, community co-operation and genuine discussion that was “grounded in the science and local evidence” were needed, she said.

Cr Laws said he hadn’t “fully made up my mind yet” about whether to seek re-election.

“The more people who stand though, the better. Although the real reform is required in the Dunedin ward. As a general rule, Dunstan councillors and aspirant councillors tend to share a united vision,” Cr Laws said.

Cr Bell said it was “more likely” that he would stand again than not, but he would not make a formal announcement until nearer the time nominations opened.