With just over one week to go until nominations for this year’s local body elections close, there is so far just one
candidate formally seeking election in Queenstown.

Esther Whitehead — who won a by-election last year to replace former councillor John MacDonald, who quit due to ill-health — was, by Mountain Scene deadline, the sole candidate who’s officially put her hat in the ring for the four-seat Queenstown-Whakatipu ward.

So far, there are no official candidates for the new Arrowtown-Kawarau ward and none for the mayoralty, either.

Things are faring only slightly better over the hill.

Existing councillor Quentin Smith and Cody Tucker are both formally standing for the four-seat Wānaka-Upper Clutha ward.

Three Queenstown councillors have said they’re not having another run — Penny Clark and Val Miller are both stepping back, while Glyn Lewers has signalled his intention to stand for the mayoralty, but not the council.

Arrowtown’s Heath Copland is, at this stage, also expected to step back.

In Wānaka, Niamh Shaw and deputy mayor Calum Macleod have both announced they’re out, too.

A Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) spokesperson says it’s not unusual for candidates to declare late in the nominations period, but it’s also not unusual for one or more positions to be unfilled after local body elections.

Under the Local Electoral Act 2001, if the number of candidates is less than the number of vacancies to be filled, empty seats are treated as ‘‘extraordinary’’ vacancies.

That triggers a by-election.

Queenstown council’s electoral officer Jane Robertson says that costs about $60,000.

The DIA spokesperson says if a by-election’s required, it’ll be held next February.

‘‘A council in this position will be able o meet and make decisions while the by-elections are underway, even if some parts of the district or region aren’t represented, in the same way a council would be able to continue to make decisions if a vacancy arises in the middle of the council term.’’

However, that still requires a quorum — the minimum number of people required to make a decision — for Queenstown’s council, that number’s six.

Nominations for this year’s election, being held October 8, close at noon, sharp, next Friday.

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