Race for empty Hutt city council seat wide open two weeks after councilor leaves


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Who will take the seat at the Hutt City Council table vacated by David Bassett?  (File photo)

ROSA WOODS / Stuff

Who will take the seat at the Hutt City Council table vacated by David Bassett? (File photo)

The race for the empty seat at the Hutt city council table remains wide open after the sudden resignation of longtime local politician David Bassett.

Two weeks after the council released a statement saying Bassett had resigned, effective immediately, no one has come forward with his name to replace him.

Bassett had been a council member for 14 years, nine of which were deputy mayor. It most recently occupied the seat of the central hall. Advisors are paid an annual base salary of $ 54,000.

Veteran Lower Hutt local politician David Bassett stepped down as Hutt city councilor for the Central Ward two weeks ago.  (File photo)

ROBERT CUISINE / STUFF

Veteran Lower Hutt local politician David Bassett stepped down as Hutt city councilor for the Central Ward two weeks ago. (File photo)

His June 14 resignation triggered a by-election, for which candidacies were opened three days later. They will close on July 15.

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But as of Monday afternoon, the board had yet to receive any appointments.

While one local government expert said this was not necessarily of concern, another warned that there was a risk that someone with little interest in governance would opt for the role simply for the salary.

Andy Asquith, a local government researcher and lecturer at Massey University, was not surprised by the lack of interest in the position.

It was a symptom of a “disconnect” between local government and the general public, he said.

“It fuels the larger narrative that people will only show interest in status, tracking and voting if they can see the relevance.

“The local government has not helped itself here as the majority of the stories we have had about local government over the past year have been negative.”

Bassett ran unopposed for the Central District seat in the 2019 local election.

Asquith said if no one took Bassett’s place this time around, the Central District, which encompasses Hutt Central, as well as the suburbs of Boulcott, Avalon and Woburn, would be without representation at the decision-making table.

“The danger here is that there are no nominations and someone is raising their hand at the last minute because they want the $ 50,000.”

However, Victoria University of Wellington associate law professor Dean Knight, who specializes in public and government law, has warned of the shortage of candidates so far.

“I think there are reasons why people may not want to report early,” he said. These could include people wanting to familiarize themselves with the pitch before throwing their hats into the ring.

If more than one person is nominated, residents will vote by post between August 19 and September 10 at noon.

Hutt City Council Election Officer Bruce Hodgins said if Bassett’s old seat is not filled by then the council will likely repost the job.

The by-election is expected to cost $ 50,000.

Bassett has yet to respond to a request for comment on his resignation.

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