The local body elections will be held on 12 October this year. Photo: File.

Mayoralty challenge likely

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The Nelson election is heating up with at least two Nelson city councillors seriously weighing the idea of challenging for the mayoralty.

However, some are saying that signalling such intentions this far out from the election is “unhelpful” and acting in “self-interest”.

The Nelson Weekly surveyed all sitting councillors to ask their intentions for this year’s local body elections, which occur in September. Almost all said they would run again with some being coy about their plans.

Mel Courtney and Matt Lawrey said they are “definitely” running for council but are also seriously considering running for the mayoralty.

“There are strong moves among councillors for change in the mayor’s office,” says Matt.

“But people are still considering their options and the best way to go about it.”

He says that many people have also come to him asking about running for council.

“That’s encouraging – we need new blood and definitely we need more women. It’s pretty much unlike any other role but can be extremely rewarding and you can make a difference.”

Mel, a four-time councillor and former Nelson MP, says he is also seriously considering running for mayor out of a “deep desire to see things happening”.

“To keep Nelson moving forward but most important of all to put a stop to wasteful spending.”

He says he wants more than anything to have an “inclusive council” that is “doing great things”.

However, councillor Mike Rutledge says it is clear who is planning for higher office based on the way they are behaving.

“I think it’s very unhelpful so far, for the good operation and good running of the city. You have people acting in their own self-interest.”

Mike was recently censured for his aggressive actions following a decision to reduce funding for Natureland, which his wife is a director of. He says he will also be running for council as he enjoys the work and believes he has a valuable contribution to make to Nelson.

“Now, some are throwing a tantrum over some sharp words that were said a year ago,” Mike says. “If I let that dictate my thoughts about serving the community, it wouldn’t be worth sitting in the seat.”

Mayor Rachel Reese says she would speak more next month as she was away, but was “thoroughly enjoying the role” and has “plenty of energy for the year ahead”.

Councillor Tim Skinner says he will stand again as there are projects he wants to see come to fruition, including continuing building Nelson as a venue that attracts large entertainment shows and sports games.

“I’ve enjoyed that over the last five years on council. You meet many good people that you take for granted and realise how many cogs there are in the wheels that make Nelson turn.”

Brian McGurk says he is keen to run again as he feels there is still a contribution to make.

Gaile Noonan says it is too early to say for sure but says being a councillor is “very fulfilling”

“It gives me a balance of life and keeps me grounded. I do love the role, I relish it. It gets me up in the morning.”

Councillor Stuart Walker says he made a decision a year into his three-year term that he wouldn’t be standing again. A personal issue also meant he could not commit to three more years.

Paul Matheson says he will make a decision later in the year. Ian Barker also says it is too early to say and would wait to see what sort of candidates put their hands up for consideration.

Bill Dahlberg says he has really enjoyed the last two years and is looking forward to the next nine months.

“I am focussed on finishing the projects that the community want us to do, rather than politicking. I will make that call closer to the time but for now, I just want to focus on positive outcomes.”

Kate Fulton says she hasn’t decided and Luke Acland couldn’t be reached for comment.