Western BOP's new mayor to bring a 'younger perspective'

12:17 pm on 9 October 2022
James Denyer said it was a "tough" mayoral race.

James Denyer said it was a "tough" mayoral race. Photo: Supplied/ Local Democracy Reporting - Sun Media

The Western Bay of Plenty's new mayor James Denyer is "thrilled" to have won, but didn't want to celebrate too early because it was a "tough race".

Progress results show Denyer has taken out the Western Bay of Plenty District Council's top spot with 3593 votes. Ahead of Te Puke businessman Mark Boyle with 2261 votes, followed by previous deputy mayor John Scrimgeour, with 2231 votes.

Speaking shortly after the results were announced on Saturday, Denyer​​​​​​​ said he thought the mayoral race would be "close enough" that he would have to wait until Sunday afternoon when the preliminary votes were confirmed.

"It was a tough race, there were lots of good candidates, so I didn't want to put the champagne on ice," he told Local Democracy Reporting.

The 46-year-old was elected to mayor after serving as a Katikati-Waihi Beach councillor in the previous triennium.

When asked what skills he would bring to role, Denyer replied: he brought financial skills from his previous career, was "hardworking" and "out there in the community a lot".

"I've got a younger perspective and there's a lot of change happening in local government at the moment, and that needs a certain agility to navigate."

Those changes include the contentious Three Waters reform, the Resource Management Act reform and the Future for Local Government review.

Denyer said the Future for Local Government review, that is looking at how local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years, could have "far reaching impacts".

"I want the best for our community, for our district.

"I'm here to represent them, to listen to them and to achieve their aspirations and goals."

He listed transport as a "perennial" challenge for the Western Bay of Plenty.

Denyer is a "passionate supporter" of the Katikati Bypass, something the community has lobbied central government for, for 20 years.

He also wanted to see stage two of the Takitimu Northern Link, from Te Puna to Ōmokoroa, started.

Construction on stage one, from Te Puna to Tauriko, began this year, but the government delayed stage two for five to 10 years.

"The TNL stage two and the Katikati bypass, they'll be a political decision.

"I enjoy good relationships with our local MPs and want to make sure that they know we want those things."

Denyer has lived in Katikati with his wife Victoria and their two children since 2009.

Although he is a Katikati resident, he "wants to work for the whole district".

He said he was looking forward to working on the new Waihī Beach Library, the new Te Puke swimming pool and the continued development in Ōmokoroa.

"One thing I heard clearly during the campaign is people in Te Puke are fed up with the traffic situation there, and they want a solution for that. So, I want to see what is possible there."

Outgoing mayor Garry Webber was “really pleased” for Denyer.

Outgoing mayor Garry Webber was "really pleased" for Denyer. Photo: Supplied/ Local Democracy Reporting - Sun Media/ John Borren

Denyer will govern 11 councillors with four of them being new to the council table.

The newcomers are Andy Wichers, Richard Crawford, Rodney Joyce and Tracey Coxhead.

They join current councillors John Scrimgeour, Grant Dally, Anne Henry, Allan Sole, Murray Grainger, Margaret Murray-Benge and Don Thwaites.

The new mayor said the initial period at council was "very important to build the councillors as a team".

"I do plan to be a collaborative leader and involve everyone and value everyone's opinion and get some exciting stuff done."

His advice to the new councillors was:

"There's two main things to realise at council. One is there is a lot of reading, and secondly that things don't happen as quickly as you might like them to."

Denyer replaced Garry Webber who retired after 12 years, serving two terms as mayor and two terms as a Kaimai Ward councillor.

Webber told Local Democracy reporting he was "really pleased" for Denyer.

"A lot of good candidates put their hat in the ring, but James will bring a new approach.

"He's a younger generation, he's got a very good background, really good history and he will be an asset not only to Western Bay, but I think to the wider Bay of Plenty region."

In total 59 candidates contested the 32 seats comprising of the mayor, councillors and community board members.

The district's five community boards of Waihī Beach, Katikati, Ōmokoroa Te Puke and Maketu each have four seats.

Official and final results will be available by Friday, October 14 and available at generationchange.nz and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council's website.

Progress results votes received:

Mayor James Denyer: 3593

Katikati-Waihī Beach Ward (3 seats)

Anne Henry: 1623

Rodney Joyce: 1605

Allan Sole: 2019

Kaimai Ward (4 seats)

Tracey Coxhead: 2391

Murray Grainger: 2349

Margaret Murray-Benge: 2362

Don Thwaites: 2575

Maketu-Te Puke Ward (4 seats)

Richard Crawford: 1570

Grant Dally: 1585

John Scrimgeour: 2112

Andy Wichers: 1340

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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