Unauthorised council candidate guide


Al Angus

Glenorchy local dubbed Al ‘Who’ after 11th hour mayoral challenge. Also standing for council. In April, opposed extending Dart River Jet consent. Billboards say he’s for commonsense. After declining to fill out Mountain Scene’s Q&A on basic profile info and stances on issues, seems more like nonsense. Admits initially stood for mayor as “a hoot”. Anti convention centre.

The Oracle: “It’d have to be a very good candidate to knock incumbent off perch – that ain’t Al Angus.”

Merv Aoake

Community man working in family violence support role. Wants a better future for all, particularly youth. Did himself no favours at Queenstown candidates session when asked how familiar he was with the weighty Local Government Act and replied: “Seen the front page.” Community connections, heart in right place, may lack appreciation for what he’s in for – maybe a better social worker than councillor making key calls on sewer/water schemes.

The Oracle: “I think he has an overly relaxed view of governance.”

Craig Ferguson

Impressive community chops. Heavily involved in 25 years living here from kindergartens to sport and rec advocacy plus elderly care. Presents well in public though you’d expect so from a radio announcer. Like Aoake, community do-gooder, but ‘Ferg’ may have more realistic expectations.

The Oracle: “Faces a learning curve but all newbies do – he’d be fair, make a positive contribution.”

Alexa Forbes 

EX-PR queen turned sustainability crusader. Jousted with Mountain Scene (no bad thing, and importantly, never took it personally) when dubbing herself “extremely green”, then trying to distance herself from the description. Made point at a forum of saying communities need to be business-friendly. Proven performer locally, a successful business owner and is very conscientious.

The Oracle: “Intelligent, would do research, and be a great addition.” 

Mel Gazzard

Brought up half the town’s kids. Seems to genuinely want to contribute – some question if he does much at meetings, with one council watcher likening him to an open-mouthed clown head at the circus that you try to throw a ball into. “Often says ‘that’s the recommendation, why question it’,” one says. Incumbent, knows job.

The Oracle: “Cuts through crap. Doesn’t believe in hours of discussion.” 

Cath Gilmour

Impressive councillor going for third term. Intelligent, passionate, a watchdog though a detail Nazi – to the point one council watcher says: “She’d make a good bureaucrat, but doesn’t know when to stop.” Memorial Hall upgrade wouldn’t have happened without her. Has clear view, needs to work on flexibility. Admits her focus on detail can annoy, but says she’s saved council from itself at times.

The Oracle: “Hellishly good rep for individual ratepayers.”

John Glover

Kinloch Lodge owner who no doubt understands the frustrations of many ratepayers and wee business owners. Misguided campaign platform pushing for new hospital and better health services. One of the more impressive new faces on the hustings. Has compared council to a church that needs followers, not satisfied ratepayers – which was a bit weird.

The Oracle: “Could be good. Focus on health is silly – council isn’t in that.”

Fiona McArthur

Bangs on about so-called “passion” for governance, liquor licensing, the region’s future, etc. Dubbed Fiona ‘McSilent’ by Mountain Scene during a health board reign and when asked about it at a candidates forum said: “I stand for governance.” Naively pledging to consult on everything which is impossible. Promises to be a strong voice, record suggests otherwise.

The Oracle: “Had opportunity to rattle cages on health board, didn’t hear her agitating for us.”

Warwick Stalker

Fourth-generation Queenstowner with a share of plumbing, drainage, property and mechanics firms. Given most council dealings are roads, footpaths, poos and wees, he’s worth consideration. One of the most comfortable in own skin at meet-the-candidates meetings.

The Oracle: “Council might be light on commercial nous, consider him.”

Simon Stamers-Smith

Lawyer with sharp wit. In previous term wasn’t afraid to adopt unpopular positions but at times seemed to oppose for sake of it (Memorial Hall upgrade, affordable housing trust in Arrowtown). A council watcher says he’s the councillor others roll their eyes at most. Another says you don’t want a bunch who just shut up and agree about everything.

The Oracle: “Probably good company for a beer, but got strange ideas.”

Trevor Tattersfield

Queens­town council’s most well-known retiree – though it does mean he has the time to dedicate to the role. Uncharitably described by one council watcher as past his use-by date but seemed very lively and kicking at candidate meetings. Incumbent who knows the ropes, has ideal background in roading industry and has no problem piping up and speaking his mind. Best interjection at Queenstown forum when he interrupted Bryce Whiting’s rant against a casino being part of a convention centre saying: “You realise we have two casinos already …”

The Oracle: “Want a handbrake? He’d be good – puts skids up things and looks after the money.”

Nicola Vryenhoek

Hell of a CV – ex-Treasury analyst, resource management lawyer, on family duty recently. Presented well in allocated minute at Kelvin Heights candidates meeting but loses her way and gets hopelessly convoluted when speaking off the cuff. Bit non-committal on issues in Mountain Scene election Q&A and bit of an unknown quantity – could be a dark horse but might also be a total donkey.

The Oracle: “Going in a bit naively – like it’s a re-entry to workforce.”

Angus Welsh

Recently departed top council bean-counter whose job went by wayside in restructure after 14 years. Adamant he’s not standing out of retribution and seems sincere in that. Heart of gold, finance skills could be useful and probably a safe pair of hands. Council will need commercial nous with departure of finance committee chair John Mann. Admits he’s keen to monitor success or otherwise of council restructure – obviously believes jury’s out on that.

The Oracle: “A thing he has over opponents, including some incumbents, is understanding of processes.”

Bryce Whiting

If Gilmour’s a pedant, man-of-law Whiting makes her look free-wheeling. Could come up with legal precedent and annotated evidence to argue the water in Lake Wakatipu isn’t wet. Self-proclaimed agenda to reform how council consults and make everything it does consistent with legal standards/principles. Anti convention centre.

The Oracle: “Doesn’t seem to want to listen to any opinions other than his own. May struggle to compromise.”

Vanessa van Uden

Proven performer who should be returned comfortably – or you’re all bloody mad. If she loses, it’ll be the biggest surprise since Oracle won eight races on the trot to upend Team NZ – and possibly worse feeling. Delivered on 2010 promises to cut council spending and improve books. Vast experience as council contracts manager, then councillor and now mayor. Needs to see things through now council has momentum. One council watcher reckons she’s got her work cut out keeping dynamo chief executive Adam Feeley in check – but Van Uden’s no puss and more than cut out for that job.

The Oracle: “Inclusive, what town needed three years ago. Now has to broaden ambit.”