Race for Lakes District council seats hots up

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Two lawyers are among newcomers standing for Queenstown-Wakatipu ward council seats this October. 

Russell Mawhinney – who’s practised law in town for eight years – is “sick of sitting on the sidelines”. 

His aim is to make Queenstown Lakes District Council “more efficient and focus on what council should focus on 
– not changing the toner cartridge”. 

The 50-year-old former first-class cricketer says “there needs to be more focus on the key issues”. 

Simon Stamers-Smith – another local lawyer in the area for 25 years – says he has a “great, great vision for the district” like his great-great-grandfather, Queenstown’s second mayor, Bendix Hallenstein. 

“My vision is to see that the elected mayor and councillors guide the future of the district, not the QLDC bureaucrats,” Stamers-Smith says. 

“We need transparent cohesive leadership and realistic spending.” 

Stamers-Smith, 68, unsuccessfully stood in ’89 and ’92. 

Present councillors Mel Gazzard, Cath Gilmour and John Mann are standing again, along with Arrowtowner Karen Swaine, whose nomination was announced last week. 

New Arrowtown candidate Simon Spark says key issues are “improving sport and recreation facilities, council accountability to ratepayers and fiscal responsibility – we’re $100 million in the hole and it’s not going to get any better”. 

The 39-year-old, who’s been 10 years in Arrowtown, owns a waste management company and is the local rugby club president and chairman of Southland Athletics’ children’s committee. 

Another new Arrowtown candidate is film production worker Ange van der Laan, 45, who’s been in the Wakatipu 10 years. 

“I’m really interested in building a community that values its people, its spaces, its heritage, the environment and protecting our quality of life,” she says. 

Councillor Lex Perkins is also standing for Arrowtown. 

Nominations close at noon tomorrow.