John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Strong election showing key to Clout's appointment as deputy

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Kelvin Clout's strong showing in the election has seen him returned unopposed as Tauranga's deputy mayor for a second term.

He was the clear runner-up in the race for the mayoralty behind Greg Brownless, with the city's new mayor saying he felt voters had sent a strong signal about who they preferred as deputy.

Mr Brownless said Mr Clout also had the properties needed to be deputy mayor - someone who was personable and who connected well with people.

But what tipped it for Mr Brownless was Mr Clout's voter support which included being the top polling at-large councillor.

His choice for deputy was carried unanimously at yesterday's inaugural council meeting where each member of the new council was sworn in and given the opportunity to make a short speech.

Mr Clout said he had grown into the role of deputy mayor over the past three years and promised to continue to work diligently with his fellow councillors. "We must retain a unified council."

He said he was unashamedly pro-family, pro-business and pro-healthy lifestyles, and vowed to work with iwi to maximise the opportunities that Treaty settlements would bring to the region.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr Clout threw out a hint that he would be deputy, saying he had twice been the bridesmaid - the runner up in the mayoral contest - and would be happy to hold the mayoral bouquet when required.

He said the previous council never fully got to grips with the collective vision. "We want a vision to drive the city forward."

Mr Brownless' first official speech as mayor was a mixture of anecdotes and serious thinking, saying his 92-year-old mother had described herself as a very proud MOM or Mother of Mayor.

His partner Li Jong received the mayoress' chain of office, with Mr Brownless saying her dietary persistence had resulted in "the diminishing figure you see before you today".

He made special mention of his former friend and councillor, the late Bob Addison, whom he got to know through repertory and musical theatre.

"Should Bob have been with us, I would have asked him to sing The Impossible Dream because both of us sought to improve ourselves and the city, and to reach that unreachable star."

Mr Brownless said he wanted the Government to honour its commitments to 15th Ave and Turret Rd, acknowledging however that widened roads eventually clogged up. "We must take a broader view and explore other solutions as well."

He said that in order for community facilities like a museum and performance venue to become a reality, funding from other than ratepayers had to be found for both capital and operating costs.

Mr Brownless also advocated that some of the millions the Government collected in GST from New Zealand's booming tourism industry should come back to councils to promote the economy of their regions.


Kelvin Clout's voter support
2016 mayoral bid: 1982 votes behind winner & 3088 votes ahead of second runner-up.
2013 mayoral bid: 502 votes behind winner & 6606 ahead of second runner-up
2016 at-large election: Top polling by 3308 votes
2013 Te Papa/Welcome Bay Ward election: Top polling by 560 votes

- Bay of Plenty Times

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