Western Bay candidates speak out after results

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Western Bay of Plenty's former deputy mayor, Gwenda Merriman, has found herself without a seat on the new council after a closely contested mayoral race. Photo/File
Western Bay of Plenty's former deputy mayor, Gwenda Merriman, has found herself without a seat on the new council after a closely contested mayoral race. Photo/File

Western Bay of Plenty's outgoing deputy mayor has found herself without a seat on the new council after a closely contested mayoral race.

Outgoing deputy mayor Gwenda Merriman, who was predicted by many to take out the mayoralty, said she would continue working in the Western Bay community despite her loss.

Mrs Merriman came second in the race, receiving 2770 votes in the preliminary count. She did not stand for a ward seat.

"It has been a privilege serving our community over the past six years and I look forward to continuing the relationships developed over the period going forward," she said.

Mrs Merriman said it was the people who made the Western Bay special, and congratulated newly elected mayor Garry Webber and the councillors.

"Thank you to all my supporters, family and friends and campaign team," she said.

Defeated mayoral candidate Don Thwaites, who received 2009 mayoral votes, will return to council this term as a Kaimai ward councillor, comfortably claiming the highest ward vote with 3038.

"That was great. Great to get an endorsement from the Kaimai area."

Despite being disappointed with his mayoral bid, he said he would "give it another crack" in the next election, and was ready to "get our heads down and work hard" with the new council.

"We got a pretty firm message from the ratepayers, especially the retired ones, that the rates need to be addressed," he said.

He thought contentious issues such as the single-laning of Te Puke had cost some councillors their seats.

Mayoral contender Kevin Tohiariki, who was unsuccessful with his first political bid, said he was moving on from the loss.

"It's a matter of getting used to anything that fails, and working out where you've gone wrong."

"I guess I just need to analyse and understand my approach."

Mr Tohiariki said he would be mulling over whether he would stand again in the next election but in the meantime would be continuing to work in the community and focus on local environmental issues.

He wanted to thank everyone who had supported him throughout his campaign.

Mike Lally said he too was disappointed he had not been elected as mayor, but was looking forward to representing the Maketu-Te Puke region.

Western Bay of Plenty District Councillor Karyn Gunn-Thomas has not been re-elected. Photo/File
Western Bay of Plenty District Councillor Karyn Gunn-Thomas has not been re-elected. Photo/File


Karyl Gunn-Thomas
Karyl Gunn-Thomas, outgoing Maketu-Te Puke Ward councillor, said she was surprised she missed out on a seat but had received support from across the community.

"I've had some amazing calls, emails and messages.

"It's time for change and I will watch with interest the promises that have been made," she said.

Ms Gunn-Thomas said one thing she was disappointed about was that there had been only one woman elected on to council despite about half the voters being women.

She said she would be spending time reflecting on her options for the future but would remain in Te Puke.

"I will continue to be a passionate advocate for the Te Puke community . . . Giving it value through my expertise and knowledge and experience.

"I just want to thank all my supporters. And I do wish the new mayor and councillors and community board and staff all the best."


Ross GoudieRoss Goudie, who was the Katikati-Waihi Beach Ward councillor, said he was disappointed he had not been re-elected, but it meant he could get back to his dairy farm.

Mr Goudie received 1653 votes, coming fourth in the ward.

"I'm disappointed, but I have my life back. I'll be back dairy farming fulltime and my wife is happy about that.

"I've been on and been off council twice before."

He said he did not know if he would run again next election.

"A whole lot of things could change in three years, council may manage very well, and the voters would think, 'why change?'"

Mr Goudie said he wished all the new councillors well.

"They've got quite a few challenges ahead of them."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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