INVERCARGILL’S residents now have four people to choose from when they go to the polls to elect their mayor.
Longstanding Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt indicated earlier this year he would stand again, having been in office non-stop since 1998.
Last month his deputy, Rebecca Amundsen announced she would be challenging him for the top post.
In the past week two more people have confirmed they will also be challenging Sir Tim for the mayoral chains.
On Friday long-standing city councillor and former deputy mayor Darren Ludlow announced he will stand, and on Monday Ria Bond announced her candidacy.
Mr Ludlow said he had expressed an interest in the position for quite a few years, but the time had not been right.
After 18 years on the council, he had been asked by people “to step forward”, he said.
He said he would focus on the leadership and would try to engage with everyone. “As a mayor you are not a sole decision-maker, but you can set the tone of how council behaves.”
Mr Ludlow said this was an important moment for the area with the inner-city development and he believed it was time for a more “hands-on” mayor.
“Tim served us really well for many years. I just don’t see anything new.
“He is also really busy and he needs to be away quite often. We need a mayor that is here most of the time.”
Ten years ago, Ms Bond told Sir Tim she would challenge him one day in the mayoralty race.
“I said to him that I would like to take over from him, but I needed a few years more.
“I feel ready for this right now.”
Ms Bond said Sir Tim was an “icon” and she appreciated what he had done for Invercargill in the past.
However, she believed now was the time for new leadership.
“I respect him and I’m proud to have him as a mayor, but I do feel that it is time for change. We need a full-time leader who can focus on Invercargill’s community.”
Ms Bond, a former hairdresser, spent more than two years as a list MP based in Invercargill.
In the general election in 2017, NZ First had only secured nine seats and she was ranked 12th on the party list.
She was employed by Venture Southland as Southland labour market skills placement co-ordinator.
However, as she was employed by Invercargill’s council she was unable to begin campaigning until her contract with Venture Southland finished at the end of June.
Sir Tim said Mr Ludlow told him about his candidacy last week and he appreciated the gesture.
“It certainly makes the election much more interesting… and obviously improves my chances of election.”
The third contender, current deputy mayor Rebecca Amundsen, said she was excited about October’s election. She announced her candidacy in March.
“It is good because people will have a good variety of candidates to choose [from]. This is a good opportunity for change.”