Nominations close for mayoralty race

Dave Cull could be facing a tougher race than usual in this year’s DCC Mayoral election, with a total of 11 candidates standing. 

DCC elections are run on a Single Transferrable Vote system whereby voters rank the candidates in terms of favorability, eliminating the lowest polling candidates until one reaches a 50 percent threshold. Dave Cull won easily in 2013, reaching the threshold on the second iteration and finishing 33 percent clear of his nearest competitor, Hilary Calvert. 

However, stronger competition combined with the dissolution of Cull’s previous “Greater Dunedin” ticket could make this year’s race far more interesting. It was speculated that Cull may have dropped the ticket in response to the news that the Labour Party were considering nominating candidates, although the ticket did not end up emerging. 

By far the youngest nominee is transgender activist and Otago Polytechnic student Scout Barbour-Evans, who highlighted Dunedin’s “growing divide between the classes and looming environmental crisis”.

Aaron Hawkins, who finished fourth in 2013 is standing again on the Green Party ticket, although his recent talk of economically obscure ideas like the Dunedin Dollar could put him inside the Kook demographic. 

Perennial contender Lee Vandervis is up for another crack, and he is making some waves this time by kicking of his campaign with a $500,000 defamation lawsuit against Dave Cull. There appears to be some serious bad blood between the two which could make for some interesting encounters over the coming weeks. 

Accountant and Restaurateur Barry Timmings appears to be running a solidly competent campaign with a clear message and a bit of money behind it, as does former Police Officer and school board chair Conrad Stedman. 

The only candidate with a clear advertising presence around town so far is the incumbent, Dave Cull, who has invested in a large billboard at the Railway overpass by Kensington oval. Local body elections are fairly traditional affairs, with the most successful candidates usually the ones most willing to put in the hard yards knocking on doors. 

Right now, the smart money would definitely be on Cull, and most likely several of the mayoral candidates are simply using the race to bolster their name recognition in the vote for council seats, but don’t be surprised if we see a dark horse contender arise from the pack. 

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2016.
Posted 10:24am Sunday 21st August 2016 by Joel MacManus.