12 Oct 2013

Left lean to country's main mayors

10:09 pm on 12 October 2013

It's business as usual in Auckland and Wellington with the return of incumbent mayors Len Brown and Celia Wade-Brown but new Christchurch leader Lianne Dalziel is promising a clampdown on excess in the southern city.

Lianne Dalziel.

Lianne Dalziel. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

Ms Dalziel - a Labour MP until Friday night - won the mayoralty by more than 48,000 votes and will head a council which includes nine new councillors. She takes over from Bob Parker, who did not seek re-election.

Her Labour-aligned People's Choice ticket has picked up a seat in all but one of the city's wards but Ms Dalziel said forging a partnership with the National-led Government would be her first priority.

"We've got the council doing one thing, we've got the Government doing another. That's going to stop," she said.

She also promised to clampdown on the culture of excess she claimed existed under Mr Parker and former council chief executive Tony Marryatt, who presided over the council while it lost its building consents' accreditation.

Patience plea

Len Brown celebrates his victory.

Len Brown celebrates his victory. Photo: RNZ

In Auckland, fellow Labour candidate Mr Brown returned for a second term with a 50,014 vote majority, attracting 148,944 votes to nearest rival John Palino's 98,930.

Mr Brown thanked voters and asked them for patience and tolerance as he and the other Auckland councillors and staff continued the process of making the now three-year-old super city work.

"I want to just acknowledge the people of Auckland and acknowledge to them my real deep humility and appreciation for being re-elected as the mayor of Auckland for another three years," he said.

Cycleways for Wellington

Celia Wade-Brown.

Celia Wade-Brown. Photo: SUPPLIED

Ms Wade-Brown continued the left lean of the three main cities, being returned in the capital with a 2000-vote majority. The greenie fought off a challenge by councillor John Morrison, and for both it was all or nothing as neither stood for council.

She said her main focus for the next three years would be improving cycle ways in the city and boosting the economy.

"It's really important that we get things moving fast ... we'll be announcing some great programmes and projects," Ms Wade-Brown said.

It wasn't such good news for incumbent New Plymouth mayor Harry Duynhoven, the former Labour MP becoming the first of the city's mayors in more than 50 years not to be re-elected after only one term.

Two-term councillor Andrew Judd's 16,800 votes crushed Mr Duynhoven by 9200 votes.

Laws loses

In Whanganui, Annette Main beat outspoken former National MP, mayor and current councillor Michael Laws to win a second term at the top.

Ms Main received just under 9500 votes, while Mr Laws received 6788 votes.

"Look, Michael had his time. He had six years as mayor of Whanganui, and I guess this sends a message that Whanganui wants to carry on with what we've started in the last three years," she said.

They care in Invercargill

An exuberant Tim Shadbolt - famous for once saying "I don't care where as long as I'm mayor" - has been returned as Mayor of Invercargill, setting a record as New Zealand's longest-serving mayor.

Mr Shadbolt, who said he was delighted with the result, was first elected in Invercargill in 1993 but lost the following election before being returned again in 1998 and holding the position ever since. He was mayor of Waitakere for two terms from 1983 before heading south.

"This is an historic record and I like those sort of records. I'm a bit of an amateur historian and it's great," he said.

Cull returned

Just up the road in Dunedin, Dave Cull was elected mayor for a second term.

Mr Cull spent much of his first three years as mayor dealing with the fallout from previous council's decisions such as how to pay for the city's new stadium and said he hoped that could be left in the past.

"The last term of council was a pretty challenging one. We had some pretty major challenges to confront," Mr Cull said.

"We've tackled most of them and now is the time to consolidate, bed down and move on with some more positive stuff, perhaps."

Fluoride fight

Moving on won't be so easy returning Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker, who will have to deal with a referendum run in conjunction with the election in which residents voted overwhelmingly for the return of fluoride to the city's water supply.

Ms Hardaker presided over the council which voted to get rid of fluoride only in July but the referendum resulted in 23,000 people voting for fluoride and 10,000 against - 70% in favour.

Waikato District Health Board opposed the removal of fluoride and spent $47,000 on a pro-fluoride campaign. Its chief executive, Craig Climo, called on the newly elected Hamilton City Council to honour the referendum result as quickly as possible.

"On Monday morning, we will be asking the council what their process will be," Mr Climo said.

"They were quick to take it out. I'd like to see it go back in as quickly."

Poor turnout

Just 43% of voters took park in the election - down from 49% in the 2010 election.

Local Government New Zealand president and newly returned Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule put the low voter turnout to voting papers being out there too long.

"... people lack focus and the immediacy of the day, and when you do that over a three-week period it tends to become rather ho-hum," Mr Yule said

"So I think we need to have a much shorter period and focus on it on the day."

Mr Yule said electronic voting needed to be introduced, and perhaps a voting day as suggested by Mr Brown.

Electronic voting will be trialled in the 2016 local government elections.