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Nominations open soon for vacant Whangārei Urban seat

5 Nov 2020, 11:30 AM

An official nomination period for those wishing to contest the Whangārei Urban seat left vacant with the recent resignation of former regional councillor John Bain will begin on Tuesday 24 November.

Independent contractor Election Services, which is handling the by-election for the regional council, says the relatively lengthy, legally-prescribed process means it will probably be March next year before the eventual winner is officially sworn in and takes their seat around the council table.

However, Electoral Officer Dale Ofsoske says the by-election process effectively begins in earnest with the formal nomination period, which will run from Tuesday 24 November until Tuesday 22 December this year.

He says to be eligible to stand for election, a candidate must be:

  • enrolled as a Parliamentary elector (anywhere in New Zealand);
  • a New Zealand citizen; and
  • nominated by two electors of the Whangārei Urban constituency.

Nomination forms – including further information for would-be candidates – will be available during this period from:

  • Council’s Whangārei office, 36 Water St, Whangārei
  • Online: www.nrc.govt.nz/byelection
  • By telephoning the electoral office on (0800) 922 822 (a form will be posted).

“Those seeking nomination must have their completed nominations into officials’ hands no later than noon on Tuesday 22 December.”

However, Mr Ofsoske says election officials strongly urge people not to leave filing their nominations too close to that deadline, in case there is some problem with the form which could render it invalid if it cannot be corrected/completed in time.

Meanwhile, he says assuming more than one eligible candidate stands in the by-election, postal voting documents will be mailed to the roughly 30,000 eligible voters from Tuesday 26 January 2021.

The voting period is three weeks from then until noon on Wednesday 17 February 2021.

Council Chief Executive Malcolm Nicolson says the last time a by-election was held by the regional council was in early 2015 after the death of sitting Te Hiku councillor Dennis Bowman late the previous year.

Mr Nicolson says the latest by-election will cost about $70,000 (+ GST).

He says because of its relatively large population, Whangārei Urban is one of just two council constituencies which has two representatives. (The geographically sprawling Coastal North constituency, which stretches all the way from the Hikurangi Swamp to the Kerikeri Inlet is the other.)

“Essentially, we have one councillor representative for roughly every 18,000 people in Northland.”

The by-election winner will join sitting Whangārei Urban councillor Jack Craw – a regional councillor since the local body elections in October last year – on the NRC.