Mayor Cull dismisses challengers
By Brooke Gardiner
Dunedin's mayoral hopefuls are bringing some colour to the city's local body elections, despite the race centring on fairly dry issues like council debt and development.
With no big-ticket items such as the controversial covered stadium to squabble over this time, candidates have been scrapping over billboards, bylaws and election tactics.
It's a nine-horse race for the mayoralty, with a mixed bag of candidates including former television stars, MPs, golf pros and even a lion tamer.
They've been debating the city's large debt, lack of jobs and future development as they attempt win over voters and secure the city's top job
Former ACT MP Hilary Calvert's focused her campaign on getting Dunedin's finances in order.
"I'm prepared to actually ask the hard questions about the money things, and I do know enough about money to be looking under the right rocks to find out what's going on."
She's campaigned with flair, pushing the boundaries by projecting her billboard onto the side of the council offices.
"I've had a bit of fun with billboards and things just because I can't help myself."
Also keeping things interesting is Frenchman Olivier Lequeux, whose official profile lists him as a part-time lion tamer and coffee roaster.
"I want to be elected because I think sometimes you know, you need a leader who has a bit of flair, and I believe I am the only one who can provide that flair and that energy for the future."
He may be Dunedin's most eccentric hopeful, but Mr Lequeux insists he's a serious candidate. He says he hopes there won't be any confusion at the polls after local media referred to him as 'Olivia'.
"People look at me and they don't even know my name, and actually Olivia - as we all know - is a female name, and I haven't had a sex change yet."
No such concerns for incumbent Dave Cull - the former television host is well-known in Dunedin after serving one term as councillor and then another as mayor.
He says defending the mayoralty has required a different approach to his last campaign, but he's promising more of the same if re-elected, and hopes to be judged on the job he's done to date.
"We've spent a term dealing with challenges that have sprung out of the past, and the next term I want to get on with framing the future for the Dunedin community."
Mr Cull says he's quietly confident he'll get another term in office, and isn't worried about his eight rivals.
"Six of them have no public office experience, and the other two that do have a pretty shonky record at public office experience. You know, extreme, nutty policies."
But some of those rivals are hoping to show Mr Cull the door.
"Do you remember the incident with the Dalai Lama?" asks Mr Lequeux. "Could not even welcome one of the world leaders, I mean these people are… poof. We need to get rid of them."
With voting well underway, time is running out for these candidates to win over their constituents.