Take my chair – mayor


Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden is “very surprised” no one’s put their hand up to become her potential successor.

“We’re only 18 months out [from local body elections],” Van Uden says.

“Somebody else is going to be doing this job in October next year.”

Van Uden has previously maintained this second term will be her last - and she’s sticking to her guns.

She’s “absolutely adamant” she won’t stand again in 2016.

“I don’t think I’m stale by any means [but] I’ve watched people do third terms and it worries me I’d turn into somebody like that,” Van Uden chuckles.

“I’m a firm believer that towns or districts - particularly ours where there’s constant change - need new blood, they need new ideas.”

While Van Uden says she has no preferred successor, “I’d have thought by now there’d have been some fairly obvious people who would stand [for mayor]”.

She’s a little concerned no one has indicated interest - or told her quietly they’ll stand.

“We’re going through a massive period of growth in the district and we’re trying to make sure we’re putting stuff in place that copes with it.”

Leading Queenstown councillor Cath Gilmour was tipped as the next mayor - but firmly rules herself out.

At the 2013 elections, Gilmour was the highest-polling councillor. She tells Mountain Scene she’s adamantly not a starter for October 2016.

“We do need a really good candidate though I don’t have anyone in mind.”

Van Uden says anyone even toying with standing can contact her for a confidential chat and basic information.

She says it’s possible for someone who isn’t involved in the council to do the job.

“But they need to spend the next 18 months at least getting up to speed with the issues, and understanding how the process works.”

The mayoralty won’t be easy to walk away from, Van Uden says.

But she fears if you stay too long “people end up hating you because you won’t leave”.