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Four ‘new’ faces for Northland Regional Council

12 Oct 2019, 3:37 PM

Based on initial ‘progress’ results after today’s local body elections, the Northland Regional Council will have four ‘new’ faces on its nine-member council.

Election Day was a forgone conclusion for two incumbent councillors – Kaipara’s Penny Smart and Hokianga-Kaikohe’s Justin Blaikie – as they had already been re-elected unopposed when nominations closed in August.

However, today saw voters decide the fate of 17 people vying for the seven available councillor spots to represent the remaining five constituencies; Te Hiku, Coastal North (which has two councillors), Coastal Central, Whangarei Urban (which also has two councillors) and Coastal South.

Newcomers include Amy Macdonald, whose 1926 votes saw her take out the hotly-contested Coastal Central Constituency over five other hopefuls, including the man who had previously held the seat, Paul Dimery.  Ms Macdonald managed 433 votes more than Mr Dimery, her closest challenger.

Other councillors to lose their seats included Mike Finlayson who saw Te Hiku constituency go to former Far North District Councillor Colin ‘Toss’ Kitchen whose 3084 votes were 844 more than Mr Finlayson, his only challenger.

In the Coastal North seat newcomer Marty Robinson was the highest polling candidate securing 5589 votes and leaving the former council’s Chairman Bill Shepherd and first term councillor Joce Yeoman vying for the constituency’s remaining seat.  On Election Day, Mr Shepherd retains the seat with 4939 votes, just 61 votes more than Ms Yeoman. The fourth candidate, former regional council member Dover Samuels – who lost his own seat to Ms Yeoman in the 2016 elections – received 3670 votes.

In the Whangarei Urban Constituency, long-time councillor John Bain retained his seat – one of two positions available – with 5114 votes, 158 more than his closest challenger Jack Craw.  However, the success of Mr Craw – a former regional council employee – came at the expense of the former council’s Deputy Chairman David Sinclair who polled 622 votes fewer than Mr Craw.

Voters in the Coastal South Constituency returned Rick Stolwerk to the position he had occupied for the past three years, his 3204 votes were 1194 more than his only opponent David Lourie.

Council Electoral Official Christine Taylor says it’s important to remember the results delivered today are what are known as ‘progress results’ which typically include about 95% of votes cast, but do not include votes hand-delivered to various district council offices on Election Day this (Saturday) morning or any special votes that require validation.

Tomorrow preliminary results (which include all ordinary votes and any valid special votes) will be released, hopefully before lunchtime but Ms Taylor says given the relatively large margins between candidates it would be unlikely – although not impossible – the results could change.

If any change was possible, it would most likely to be in the Coastal North Constituency given there are currently just 61 votes separating two candidates.

Ms Taylor says a final official vote expected to be declared on Thursday 17 October, will confirm the final make-up of the council itself.

At this stage, it’s expected a powhiri for the new council – and its inaugural meeting – will be held in late October-early November. (The date will be confirmed closer to the time and the public is welcome to attend).

One of the first orders of business for the new council will be the swearing in of councillors, then selection of council’s new chair and their deputy.

Unlike district councils, whose mayors are chosen by the public through local elections, the regional council’s equivalent – its chair – will be voted in by the councillors themselves.

Full election results are available online via www.nrc.govt.nz/electionresults

Progress results as of 12 October show successful regional councillors as:

  • Coastal Central constituency (one vacancy); Amy Macdonald.
  • Coastal North constituency (two vacancies); Marty Robinson, Bill Shepherd.
  • Coastal South constituency (one vacancy); Rick Stolwerk.
  • Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency (one vacancy); Justin Blaikie (elected unopposed)
  • Kaipara constituency (one vacancy); Penny Smart (elected unopposed) 
  • Te Hiku constituency (one vacancy); Colin ‘Toss’ Kitchen.
  • Whangarei Urban constituency (two vacancies); John Bain, Jack Craw