Scott withdraws from ECan chair race, returned for second term as deputy

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by Chris Tobin

South Canterbury Environment Canterbury (ECan) councillor Peter Scott has secured a second term as the council’s deputy chairman after opting not to contest the chairmanship.

Mr Scott had earlier stated that if re-elected he would stand for the chairman’s role.

First-term councillor Jenny Hughey, a former community governance manager at the Christchurch City Council, where she worked for 11 years and a People’s Choice-Labour candidate, took the $180,000 position unopposed at the new council’s inaugural meeting.

She polled top in the Christchurch Northeast constituency with 12,903 votes.

“I did put my name forward for it, however, it became pretty obvious that Jenny was the more acceptable person to chair ECan and so I withdrew my name,” Mr Scott said.

Ms Hughey was nominated by a new councillor Phil Clearwater, also of People’s Choice-Labour, and a former Christchurch city councillor.

A tight battle ensued for the ECan deputy chair’s role.

Mr Scott, a farmer at Kerrytown and independent, was nominated by returning councillor Lan Pham (Common Good Independent) and by incoming councillor Vicky Southworth (Independent For Positive Change).

He was opposed by Claire McKay, of the North Canterbury constituency.

Ms Hughey was also nominated by returning Mid Canterbury councillor John Sunckell, a farmer and independent.

The voting ended in a tie, seven votes apiece. Ms Hughey voted for Ms McKay, as did Crs Clearwater, Sunckell, Megan Hands (independent), Ian Mackenzie and Nicole Marshall (People’s Choice-Labour).

Mr Scott was supported by Crs Southworth, Pham, Tane Apanui (Rail and Water), Grant Edge (independent) Elizabeth McKenzie (independent), South Canterbury’s other councillor, and Craig Pauling (People’s Choice-Labour).

Mr Scott and Ms Mckay voted for themselves.

The names then went into a draw and Mr Scott’s was drawn out.

The new chairwoman Ms Hughey has a master’s degree in law and was involved in politics in Australia being president of Queensland Labor Women in the 1990s until breaking away to become a founder member of a short-lived Australian Women’s Party. She received 298 votes standing for the party in the 1998 Queensland state elections.

In answering a pre-election questionnaire from Aotearoa Water Action, she stated her three main priorities were to reduce carbon emissions from farms and public transport, protect aquifers under Christchurch city from further pollution and nitrate leakage and “to engage the people closer in the decision-making and rebuild democracy”.

This year’s election was ECan’s first fully democratic election in a decade.

Ms Hughey believed cow numbers on the Canterbury plains had to be reduced 25%.

“Lincoln farm research and other research has proven this to be possible over a period of time,” she said.