Queenstown’s mayoral front-runner is now confirmed - local tourism heavyweight Jim Boult.
He reveals today he’ll seek the vacancy being left when mayor Vanessa van Uden steps down in October.
The former Shotover Jet owner and ex-Christchurch Airport boss says he’s standing because he feels an obligation to give something back.
“I’ve been in town 34 years, it’s treated my wife and me very well, we’ve had the great fortune to have two fabulous kids grow up here and do really well at school.”
There’s a hint of more announcements in the wings.
Boult, 64, accepts he’d only be one voice around the council table but says “I am aware there are a number of quality people considering standing for council”.
He won’t comment on the current council’s performance.
But he’s determined to tackle the “often unpopular” issues of affordable housing and transport, as well as planning, including infrastructure, which he says are his main priorities.
Boult first revealed he was weighing up the role last November, after being repeatedly urged to stand.
At this stage he’ll be standing against Wanaka-based deputy mayor Lyal Cocks and Glenorchy’s Al Angus, who also stood three years ago.
A director or chairman of many companies and organisations, Mr Boult says he’ll likely quit some roles if he becomes mayor – not because of any conflicts of interest but for workload reasons.
“I would make it plain upfront that I would be continuing to have some external involvements, but that said, the role of mayor does require a significant time contribution.”
Boult was formerly executive chairman of the Christchurch arm of Stonewood Homes, resigning just days before the company went bust early this year. He declined to comment on the matter to Mountain Scene.
Boult – who’s also led major local community projects, often with his wife Karen – says he’s not afraid to ask tough questions and seek new ways to solve problems.
Two years ago, he said there was a “screaming case” for a local conference centre – but that was a “different world”, he says, in the middle of the GFC.
He still favours a centre – not funded by City Hall – but says it needs to be developed with more commercial accommodation, because of the current hotel room shortage.
Boult says it’s council’s role to facilitate housing, not fund it.
On worker housing, he says: “Council needs to encourage a permanent solution, provided by commercial operators.”
If elected he says he’ll pursue the congestion-relieving eastern access road, behind the airport, “with haste”.
Boult hopes to achieve “real progress” in three years but admits it might take longer. He’s already relishing the prospect of leading the town during its biggest growth spurt.
Boult says he’s spent years of navigating different views, and finding ways to get agreement – and, most importantly, action. As mayor he reckons he’ll be able to navigate that balance between community and commercial needs.