New Tararua mayor shocked by margin of victory

By Christine McKay

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Cheers: New Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis of Eketahuna, toasts the outstanding calibre of candidates in this year's local body elections. PHOTO/CHRISTINE MCKAY
Cheers: New Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis of Eketahuna, toasts the outstanding calibre of candidates in this year's local body elections. PHOTO/CHRISTINE MCKAY

Eketahuna dairy farmer Tracey Collis says she's thrilled to have won the Tararua District mayoralty race.

Mrs Collis won with 2722 votes ahead of Allan Benbow on 1745, Ernie Christison on 748, Shirley Hull, 722 and Kay McKenzie 189.

"I thought the results would be very close," Mrs Collis told the Dannevirke News. "I'm shocked by the margin. "

And while she's ready to take on the full time mayoral role, on Sunday Mrs Collis flies out to finish her elite governance programme.

"But when I get off that plane again next Thursday, I'll be driving to Dannevirke, ready to get stuck in," she said. "I'm thrilled voters have put their faith in me and I believe I've kept my message clear and consistent throughout the campaign."

Mrs Collis said she's taken on board the frustrations of residents regarding some roading issues and she'll be looking to improve processes to monitor and attend to these.

Mrs Collis' closest rival, Dannevirke's Allan Benbow said he felt disappointed, not to be voted into the mayoral role.

"You don't put your name forward for something like this to come second," he told the Dannevirke News.

"I appreciate the support of all those who voted for me and also for the help I received from so many people. A big thank you and I'm sorry to all of you that my bid for the mayoralty was not successful. However, being voted onto council hopefully provides me with the opportunity to concentrate my efforts on the particular areas I enjoy. These include economic development and financial management. Other areas that are of particular interest to me include Iwi liaison and support and tourism which I believe is an opportunity for our district.

"I look forward to supporting Tracey as our mayor and also my fellow councillors. I believe that with a strong unified council providing sound, constructive support to the management and staff, our district will not only remain a great place to live and raise a family, but also be strengthened so that we all benefit and enjoy being part of Tararua."

And unsuccessful Horizons Regional Council candidate Andrew Day has also endorsed Mrs Collis' success.

"I get on well with Tracey and given we are two people at the opposite ends of the One Plan spectrum, I still feel she deserves my endorsement as district mayor," he said.

Despite missing out on the Tararua District mayoralty, Dannevirke's Ernie Christison is ready to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in as a new district councillor.

"I think voters wanted energy and transparency and someone who doesn't take no for an answer," Mr Christison told the Dannevirke News just minutes after receiving the call to confirm his council seat.

"I've a no bull-s**t attitude and am about making it happen. I'd like to offer my experience in the roading area and I also want to sort out the water in our district because there is good water but it needs sorting. And I reckon a lot of council staff who have been making long-term decisions don't know much."

Mr Christison, a Dannevirke contractor, who has served one term on the Community Board, said he's looking forward to having some influence at council.

And while Mr Benbow missed out on the mayoralty, with 1881 votes he is the highest polling council candidate for the north ward, followed by incumbents Jim Crispin on 1784 and Carole Isaacson on 1714. Mr Christison polled 1695 votes.

Kay McKenzie failed to gain a seat on council, but is determined to be back again next time.

"It's been worthwhile and a wonderful experience," she said. "I'm new to the district and had to do my campaigning on a budget, but I'll try again in three years time."

Meanwhile Mrs McKenzie said she will be following through on her campaign to have a cellphone tower installed on Oporae Range, as well as working on a project at Waihi Falls.
"It takes a lot of time and energy to put yourself forward for election and I'd like to congratulate everyone," she said.

Community board member Tim Delaney has missed out on serving a second term on the board, admitting his loss "had been a bit of a knock."

"Really I was hesitant in running again in the first place and I didn't campaign," he said. "I've my job with Parliamentary Serves as MP Alastair Scott's representative in this district and I'll be focusing on his election campaign, so in a way it's not a bad thing missing out on the Community Board. I did my very best and I couldn't imagine doing it any other way, so I'm maybe not the right person for the Community Board after all."

Winning the four seats on the board were incumbent Ross Macdonald and newcomers Pat Walshe, Kim Spooner and Terry Hynes.

Maria Edwards has missed out once again, standing for the board previously in 2013.
"I guess it wasn't meant to be," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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