Jono Naylor's election to Parliament as a National list MP means Palmerston North will be facing a mayoral by-election in February. And on Friday, the Manawatu Standard [offline] reported that my local business community was actively conspiring to prevent it:
A Palmerston North businessman has asked mayoral candidates to withdraw from the race to clear the field for an unnamed person to become a caretaker mayor.As the Standard points out in its later editorial, this is an attack on our democracy, an attempt to stitch up the election for a candidate who won't even show their face. Fortunately, mayoral candidates are having none of it.
Former Manawatu Chamber of Commerce head [and wannabe National candidate - I/S] Paul O'Brien said a group of people he would not name, who had earlier approached him to stand for the mayoralty, were behind the plan. If the group's "high profile" candidate was the only nominee, there would be no need for voting or for a further by-election if a current councillor was elected as mayor.
O'Brien said the caretaker mayor would forgo the mayoral salary, and would stand aside at the next local government elections in 19 months' time.
If O'Brien's secret candidate thinks their "caretaker" plan would be so good for Palmerston North, they should stand for election and seek the endorsement of voters. And the fact that they won't tells you everything you need to know.
[I see that nominations closed today, so hopefully we're done with such oligarchic maneuvres]