John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga voted for steady-as-you-go mayor: Mason

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Tauranga city council newcomer and losing mayoral candidate Max Mason.  Photo/file
Tauranga city council newcomer and losing mayoral candidate Max Mason. Photo/file

Losing mayoral candidate Max Mason says Tauranga voted conservatively for a steady-as-you-go mayor.

Mr Mason, who polled third to win one of the council's at-large seats, said he was disappointed to not take the mayoralty.

''However as a first time candidate, I accept the result.''

He said he chose to run an aspirational campaign and was testing the waters to see how far Tauranga had come in recent years.

''Tauranga has moved ahead, but not as much as I would have liked,'' he said.

Mr Mason said in his view the election of Greg Brownless as Mayor showed Tauranga had voted more conservatively.

''A more steady-as-you-go mayor was what people wanted.''

Mr Mason's reading of the election was that it was close among the leading mayoral candidates up to a week out from election day. He said he then sensed that something happened, a sort of collective consciousness, that saw Mr Brownless surge ahead.

''I wish him well.''

He vowed to be a progressive voice for more city amenities and alternative means to fund these amenities. Mr Mason said there was never any hint during the campaign that the members of the Civic Amenities Group who had endorsed his candidacy, had damaged his chances to win the mayoralty.

Kelvin Clout, who came within a few hundred votes of toppling Stuart Crosby in 2013, said he was disappointed at coming second again - this time 1951 votes behind Mr Brownless.

''It was a comfortable victory for Greg and I congratulate him for that.''

The deputy mayor said he felt like he was ready to step up to the top job, but was thrilled to be the top-polling at-large councillor, nearly 3000 votes ahead of Gail McIntosh.

He put his unsuccessful mayoral bid down to the large number of candidates which split the vote. ''If there were fewer candidates, I felt I may have had a better chance.''

The other factor was that the older demographic voted and Mr Brownless had been around a long time and was well known, he said.

Mr Clout said he was going to miss defeated councillor Bev Edlin. ''I thought she brought a lot of good governance skills and a good attitude to the council.'' He also made a point of mentioning defeated councillor Matt Cowley, saying he would bounce back from the defeat. ''He is a young man with a lot to contribute yet to the city.''

The other front runner in the mayoral race, Doug Owens, also partly blamed the vote splitting among so many candidates.

Mr Owens joined Mr Brownless in being the only other all-or-nothing mayoral candidate. He said he had worked 24-7 at being a regional councillor and running businesses over the last six years and did not want to repeat that again.

''I am philosophical. I did not have my heart in it, but what I had to do was to make the offer.''

Mr Owens said he felt happy about the result. ''Let's see how it goes over the next three years. It will be a very tough time...I hope Greg can do it, I really do.''

He said there were things he became aware of as a regional councillor that he believed that the city council did not understand.

Mr Owens said he would review whether to run for the mayoralty again in 2019. ''There are real challenges ahead for the council. I hope they can get on top of it.''

- Bay of Plenty Times

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