Huge field lines up to challenge Invercargill’s Tim Shadbolt

Source: Q and A

The race is on for Invercargill’s mayoralty, with a huge number of challengers lining up to take on the long-serving Sir Tim Shadbolt.

The deep South council has been plagued by issues and in-fighting this year, with particularly pointed questions raised about whether Sir Tim still has the competence for the job.

Current deputy mayor Nobby Clark told Q + A reporter Whena Owen his relationship with the mayor is “just terrible”, and said it is time for Sir Tim to go.

Along with Clark, three other incumbent councillors have put their hats in the ring - Rebecca Amundsen, Darren Ludlow, and Ian Pottinger.

Speculation is also swirling about Newstalk ZB host Marcus Lush, who joined the council in a by-election last year, though Lush declined to comment to Q + A.

Former NZ First MP Ria Bond is also standing.

For his part, Sir Tim said he plans to try and win re-election for a tenth term.

He currently has significant legal bills to pay following defamation proceedings which began in 2018, and said this is part of why he’s refusing to back down.

“The councillors who have missed out are determined now to take me to court with a defamation case, and again it doesn’t look like much – it’s only $180,000 – but it’s a lot when you’re a student coming off and running in a sort of creative level of being a sort of creative type,” said Sir Tim, in an apparent reference to his radical past.

“It’s democracy, you know, you go up and down, it’s a real rollercoaster ride, and that’s why I enjoy it so much.”

The Invercargill City Council is currently in good organisational shape, with a healthy credit rating and strong water infrastructure compared to much of the rest of the country.

But Sheree Carey from the Southland Business Chamber said in her opinion, that was because of leadership from council staff, rather than the mayor.

“The CEO and the executive team they’ve got in now is absolutely incredible, so it’s a really high functioning council,” she said, adding that there had been “workarounds” used around Sir Tim.

The voting period for local elections will start in late September, with results announced in early October.