Farming chores await defeated mayor

By Roger Moroney

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Former Wairoa Mayor Les Probert
Former Wairoa Mayor Les Probert

After 28 years with the Wairoa District Council, 12 as mayor, 79-year-old Les Probert is back on the farm where he says there's plenty of work to do.

The same was true on the council as he still had projects he had wanted to pursue.

"But it is a democratic system and that is the way the people have voted," Mr Probert said.

He polled just 328 votes in the preliminary results - a distant third to Derek Fox who was a distant second to Craig Little, who snared 1857 votes.

Mr Probert was one of three on the council to lose out on Saturday.

Dave Evans, a two-term councillor, and Denys Caves a three-termer, also lost out.

Mr Evans was, like Mr Probert, philosophical about it.

"The public have spoken," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, Les, Denys and I did the best we could and I think it was a well-run council - but that's politics."

He said he would head down to the council when the new councillors took up their roles and shake their hands and wish them all the best.

For the new mayor he simply said, "He will have to get up to speed pretty quickly."

Mr Probert also wished the new council the best of luck and said they arrived in a position which had been made positive by past councils.

"There is little or no debt and the infrastructure is in good heart. I congratulate past councils and staff and management - they've done a good job."

He had no specific advice for Mr Little. "He's got a steep learning curve - that's all I'll say."

Mr Probert's only regrets were not seeing through his plans for State Highway 38, the extended walkways and the railway link.

Apart from Mr Little, newcomers to the council are Chris Joblin, Mike Bird and Hine Beth Flood.

Mr Joblin polled second highest among the councillor candidates with 1768 votes, while Mr Bird got 1733 votes and Ms Flood 1143.

He admitted he was slightly surprised. "Yes I was a little, given I'd taken a pro-amalgamation stance." He said that was cause for him to think many Wairoa people might be looking at amalgamation as a means to strengthen their region.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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