Queenstown mayor faces 11th-hour challenge…from Al who?

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Incumbent Queenstown Lakes mayor Vanessa van Uden faces an election opponent – who lodged an 11th-hour challenge. 

Van Uden, Queenstown’s first female mayor who ran a mainly cost-cutting themed campaign to a convincing win three years ago, faces opposition from Glenorchy resident Al Angus. 

It seemed Van Uden would be coasting toward a second term unopposed, until the Angus nomination arrived before today’s noon cut-off. 

Little-known Angus, listed as a manager in the electoral role, recently popped up in Mountain Scene’s news pages as one of three opponents to an extension of the consent for tourism company Dart River Jet Safaris. 

Angus was joined in opposition by fellow Kinloch resident and Kinloch Lodge owner John Glover – who is standing for a Queenstown-Wakatipu ward council seat – saying they didn’t want to end commercial jetboating, but make it responsible. 

Angus, who personally submitted and spoke at a hearing, said at the time: “At the moment, it’s just an adrenalin blast with a hoon for a driver. You see them blasting around the channels like it’s a bloody go-kart. It’s completely out of line.” 

In response to Angus’ claims, Ngai Tahu Tourism southern region boss David Kennedy told Mountain Scene at the time their Dart jetboats operate within regulations: “I’m not sure when they became experts on jetboat driving.
“They’re entitled to their subjective opinion on styles of driving but as I’ve said earlier we do everything within the law, including the way we drive our boats.” 

Three years ago Van Uden, a former council contracts manager, trounced Queenstown real estate agent Simon Hayes and roading inspector Michael Scott to victory. 

It’s not just the mayoral race that’s hotted up – 14 candidates are standing for six Queenstown-Wakatipu ward seats. 

Incumbent councillors Mel Gazzard, Cath Gilmour, Simon Stamers-Smith and Trevor Tattersfield are joined in the race by the following: 

Kinloch resident Al Angus (also standing for mayor); Queenstown community advocate and educator Merv Aoake; radio jock and sporting/community volunteer Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson; ex Southern PR founder Alexa Forbes; former health board representative Fiona McCarthur; Queenstown businessman and RHE Mechanical owner Warwick Stalker; lawyer Nicola Vryenhoek; accountant Angus Welsh and lawyer Bryce Whiting. 

The sole candidate for the single seat Arrowtown ward is incumbent Lex Perkins.
 
Seven candidates will contest the three Wanaka ward seats, including existing deputy mayor Lyall Cocks. The other six are Jude Battson, Liz Breslin, Ella Lawton, Bryan Lloyd, Calum MacLeod and Leigh Overton. 

Election voting doesn’t close until October.