A former councillor has regained his seat – despite not even knowing his hat had been put in the ring.
Greater Wellington regional councillors have appointed Daran Ponter to replace Fran Wilde, but the news surprised Ponter, who found out only after the vote.
The decision on Wednesday came as the council mulled whether to replace former chairwoman Wilde, who quit before the end of her term.
Under law, they could have left her seat vacant, held a by-election or appointed somebody to the role.
There are only about four council meetings left before the next council elections, in October. If a sitting councillor resigns within 12 months of the elections, councillors are entitled to fill the vacancy without asking voters.
It’s outrageous they have appointed someone so close to the next elections.
Councillor Judith Aitken moved the seat remain unfilled, saying there was little time left in the term, and appointing a candidate would give that person an unfair advantage in the elections.
However, colleague Sue Kedgley proposed they appoint Ponter, who lost his seat in the 2013 elections after spending a term on the council.
It came three days after Ponter announced he was standing on the Labour Party ticket to reclaim his seat in October’s elections.
So be very clear – it is about allowing him to campaign as an incumbent.
Aitken’s motion, supported by chairman Chris Laidlaw and Barbara Donaldson, failed. Kedgley’s motion won easily, despite the fact the man himself wasn’t even at the meeting.
Kudos to Laidlaw for voting against.