Vicki Buck’s decision not to stand catches left leaning group by surprise

City councillor Vicki Buck

Vicki Buck’s decision not to stand again for the city council has thrown a curve ball into plans to scuttle potential asset sales after the elections.

Left-leaning The People’s Choice political group is making a major bid to win as many council seats as it can in the October local body elections.

The group is fighting against possible sales of city council-owned assets.

It’s main political opponent, centre-right group Independent Citizens is wanting to start a discussion around asset sales.

Ms Buck is an independent city councillor, but is a former member of the
Labour Party.

She has previously spoken against asset sales which The People’s Choice would have been relying on during the next council’s term.

Her surprise announcement last week to not contest her Riccarton Ward seat took The People’s Choice by surprise.

“We did not have any heads-up or anything, I would say it was a bit of a curve ball,” said The People’s Choice chairman Keir Leslie.

Ms Buck’s decision not to contest the October local body elections has prompted former Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board member Peter Laloli to contest the city council’s Riccarton Ward as an independent.

Independent Citizens is fielding Catherine Chu for the ward. Anyone wanting to stand for the city council and community boards has to be nominated by August 16.

Mr Leslie said now Ms Buck will not stand, it will need to find a strong candidate quickly.

“I think there is a real risk that if Independent Citizens win the Riccarton seat that puts keeping assets at risk. That is why it is really important that we run a really strong candidate,” he said.

Independent Citizens president Liz Lovell said it wanted to start a discussion on whether it made more financial sense to sell city council-owned assets.

She said assets, such as the airport, Lyttelton Port Company, Orion and Enable, were all off the table. But she saw poorly performing ones, such as City Care and Eco Central, as open to discussion.

Mrs Lovell said she was also shocked by Cr Buck’s decision not to run for re-election.

She felt Cr Buck’s departure “opened up the field” for Independent Citizens.

Seven of the 16 current city councillors are with People’s Choice.

“We are confident that we are going to put up a good alternative to what is already there. We have got some really good candidates that would be really good for the city,” Mrs Lovell said.