Former Kapiti District councillor convicted of indecent assault up for re-election despite trying to withdraw

Kapiti councillor of 15 years David Scott has tried to withdraw from this year's local elections, claiming he won't get a fair hearing alongside rival candidates.

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David Scott wants to back out of his campaign for re-election, but the rules won’t let him. Source: 1 NEWS

Scott was convicted of indecent assault last year, for pushing his genitals against a colleague during morning tea.

He was stood down from Kapiti District Council earlier this year when he lost his bid to the Court of Appeal.

He maintains he's innocent of the crime.

"After 73 years of good living and helping people, one person can do that and ruin your life," Scott said.

He said he sought re-election, just three months after the council stood him down, because people asked him to.

"So many people asked me, I go to coastlands and the malls, and I've always represented the elderly, the disabled and young people."

But the decision to stand has riled up his rivals, who don't believe he should be able to stand again and are calling for a law change.

At a candidates debate organised by Kapiti Grey Power on Friday, district wide candidate Angela Buswell said he shouldn't be on the ballot.

"There are vulnerable people, you know we're getting this really young vote coming through, we've got 18 year olds standing," she said.

Eighteen-year-old local board candidate Sophie Handford agreed she'd feel "relatively uncomfortable" sitting around a table with Scott.

"Knowing that I have potentially no protection."

It's called into question the law which says a person can stand, despite a conviction, as long as the sentence was less than two years in prison.

But while Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said she's aware of "a small number of cases" she did not have plans at this stage to change the law.

Local Government New Zealand did not push the matter either, instead suggesting a move to give more power to voters and allow them to petition somebody out of office who had behaved innappropriately, at any time.

But candidates for Kapiti Council want action.

"Seems to us to be an anomaly in the law, whereby, if someone is stood down as a councillor then only months later they're able to stand as a candidate... sure, everybody deserves a second chance, but it's just so soon," said deputy mayor Janet Holborow, who's running for re-election.

Rob McCann, who's running for district wide councillor on a Labour ticket, agrees.

"The law clearly needs some thinking about because parliamentarians, when there's a certain crime that you commit, can't go back into Parliament.

"So we need the same protections for local government."