ELECTION returns in the Manawatu District Council’s Mayoral By-election are gaining momentum and likely to exceed 50 percent by the time postal voting closes in six days’ time.
By noon on Wednesday, 32.94 percent (7051) of the 21,405 voting papers sent out to the district’s eligible voters earlier this month had been returned – a rise of more than three percent on votes received at the equivalent time in the 2010 local government elections.
Four candidates – Margaret Kouvelis, Steve Gibson, Barbara Cameron and Russell Johnson – are vying for the mayoralty following the resignation of Ian McKelvie.
Deputy Electoral Officer Janine Hawthorn said at the last Mayoral By-election in 2002 (when Mr McKelvie was first elected) a 58.3 percent return was recorded and she was hoping that figure would be matched or bettered this time.
“The Mayoral By-election deals with the most important position on council and you can’t emphasise that enough,” she said.
Mrs Hawthorn said this year’s returns were slow to start, but had now quickened, and she was hoping for a good response by the time voting closed at noon on Election Day, Wednesday, March 7.
“With the meet-the-candidates meetings now over, voting has been picking up, and we are also expecting a late surge of interest early next week.”
She advised voters who were unsure if their return would reach the Christchurch address for electionnz.com in time to drop off their completed papers at the council’s administration office in Feilding so their vote could be guaranteed.