Marcus Lush reveals bid for Invercargill mayoralty

Source: 1News

Marcus Lush has revealed his bid to be Invercargill's next mayor.

The radio and television personality will be the eighth candidate in the run for the southern city mayoralty, revealing to Seven Sharp that he decided to "take a shot" for the role after learning that many locals were unhappy with the available candidates.

Marcus Lush.

"They said they weren't going to vote... so I felt a certain amount of pressure."

READ MORE: Huge field lines up to challenge Invercargill’s Tim Shadbolt

"Some mayors of North Island cities approached me and said 'would you please run?' They said 'that they would mentor me and they're really really keen.'"

The radio host joins the running just two days before applications close on August 12.

The 57-year-old has already established himself as a well-known figure in New Zealand television and radio over three decades since making his first major appearance co-presenting TV2's Newsnight in the 1990s.

Last year, he was elected to the Invercargill City Council in a landslide victory in a by-election that was triggered due to the resignation of former deputy mayor Toni Biddle in 2020.

And despite telling reporters soon after the win that he wanted to find his feet in the role it didn't take long for the 57-year-old to establish himself as an outspoken voice, first by bucking the enthusiasm of following councillors for a planned $165m CBD development project. He argued the city should find a way to get out of the deal and then criticised his council colleagues for not pushing Covid vaccination in the region.

But while Lush could be considered an established figure in Aotearoa's media landscape, he'll be taking on what many consider to be an icon in incumbent mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt, who is planning to run for his 10th term.

The 60s protester, author, actor, commune founder, prison inmate and concrete contractor is New Zealand's longest-serving mayor, winning a total of 11 mayoralty bids across Invercargill and Waitematā City.

But while the 75-year-old is a beloved figure in the nation's southernmost city, his last few year years have been rocked with controversy, beginning in October 2020 with the resignation of deputy mayor Toni Biddle, who left citing a “toxic” culture at the council as one of the reasons.

A month later an independent review of the Invercargill City Council commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs found that Invercargill's mayor was "increasingly unable to deliver on the kind of leadership that might unite a struggling council".

Then in June 2021, Shadbolt revealed to council members a diagnosis of muscle tension dysphonia - a condition that progressively impairs speech.

But despite an acknowledgement that his "golden years" could be over, Shadbolt told Local Democracy Reporting he could "probably do another three or four terms" as mayor if elected.

But it'll be a packed race for both challenger Lush and incumbent Shadbolt.

Among the candidates is Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark, Darren Ludlow, Bluff Community Board member Noel Peterson, former New Zealand First list MP Ria Bond, former Invercargill deputy mayor Toni Biddle and social media influencer Tom Morton.

In July, Clark told Q + A his relationship with the mayor is “just terrible”, and said it is time for Shadbolt to go.

Incumbent councillors Rebecca Amundsen and Ian Pottinger have already withdrawn their bids for the top job this month due to the increasing number of candidates.