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The local body elections are about to begin, with some intriguing battles for Ōtaki votes.

Nominations close at noon on Friday (August 12), and unless there are some surprise late-runners, Ōtaki Community Board could be short of one member. However, at press time key candidates for council and board positions are mostly known.

Top of the list is the contest for Ōtaki ward councillor, ably conducted for the past two terms by James Cootes. His decision to step aside from local politics leaves a big hole that two other locals hope to fill.

Ōtaki Community Board chair Chris Papps is one - see announcement - the other is board member Shelly Warwick.

Chris has been on the board for three terms, the past two as chair. She took over from James. Shelly has been a board member for two terms.

During their tenure, the two have clashed several times. Chris is generally regarded as a “team player” seeking to progress issues as a united board. Shelly is seen as an independent who will speak her mind, at times frustrating other board members and council staff.

With Chris also running for the community board (Shelly is not), the scenarios for the board at the time of writing become interesting. It needs at least one more nomination to guarantee a full board.

If Chris is elected as ward councillor, the board will be short one member. If Shelly is successful, Chris will go back on the board, making up the four necessary (plus Shelly as the ward councillor).

So far, current board members Marilyn Stevens and Cam Butler have said they are standing again, and Simon Black has thrown his hat in the ring.

Marilyn has been a board member and deputy to Chris for two terms. She was recently elected as Rotary district governor for the lower North Island. Cam came onto the board a year ago, uncontested, after the resignation of Steven Carkeek. He operates a kayak business on Riverbank Road.

Simon Black is a local volunteer firefighter and business owner.

 He moved to Ōtaki about six years ago and has become involved in community activities such as the Scouts, Cubs and Keas, and the Ōtaki Pottery Club.

He says he’s standing because he would like to use his business skills and community experience to support the many local groups and activities in Ōtaki.

In the Greater Wellington Regional Council race, Asher Wilson-Goldman is standing against two-term Kāpiti councillor Penny Gaylor, editor of the Ōtaki Mail. Penny is chair of the regional council’s Environment Committee and chair of the Ōtaki College board of trustees.

Asher says that if elected he will push for new bus services to reach the growing parts of Ōtaki, as well as introducing on-demand public transport for everyone else, to improve connections not just for commuters to the Capital, but also for people wanting to get around Ōtaki and Te Horo.

“The current on-demand trial in Tawa is showing how effective an app-driven minivan service can be, and bringing these out to Te Horo and Ōtaki is a sensible way to bring affordable transport to more of our population.”

With Ōtaki’s K Gurunathan not standing again for the mayoralty, the race has no Ōtaki candidates. Rob McCann of Paraparaumu is standing, as is Chris Mitchell of Waikanae. At the time of writing, no one from Ōtaki is seeking a district-wide seat.

Election battle about to begin



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