Voters send clear message

By Victoria White

1 comment
With only 146 votes re-electing Fenton Wilson, his opponent says this sends a message from the district's residents. PHOTO/FILE
With only 146 votes re-electing Fenton Wilson, his opponent says this sends a message from the district's residents. PHOTO/FILE

Elected by fewer than 150 votes, the Wairoa District has sent a message to their re-elected regional councillor Fenton Wilson.

When the final Hawke's Bay Regional Council election results were released yesterday, they revealed the incumbent Mr Wilson had narrowly beaten opponent Dean Whaanga for the Wairoa seat.

His lead in the preliminary results of 188 votes shrunk further - receiving 1676 votes, just 146 separated him from Mr Whaanga on 1530.

There are 5500 people in Wairoa eligible to vote.

The final results also confirmed all candidates who appeared to have the most votes in the preliminary results did, and were declared elected.

Mr Wilson, who served as chairman over the past term, said he was rapt to have the confirmation of his re-election for another term.

It was the best part of the cycle, he said, when incumbents had to go back to their communities and ask for their support.

Yesterday, Mr Whaanga said he was also really positive about the result.

"I'm eternally grateful to the people who supported my bid, I think it was an honest and credible bid," he said.

Mr Whaanga said he was pretty happy with the amount of votes he had received, although it would have been better if he had enough to "cross the line".

The tight margin did not come as much of a surprise to Mr Wilson, as he said it had been a tough year for the district - from the Waihi Dam incident, to floods.

"I think it's a great opportunity for [me] to re-engage with Wairoa, and what they want for the river," he said.

The river would be a focus of Mr Wilson's for the next term - starting with some hui held soon on the matter.

Mr Whaanga said he was very clear about what message the margin sent from the community.

"The people of Wairoa have made a clear decision," he said, "They've given [Mr Wilson] the opportunity to consider Wairoa's needs."

The incumbent elect needed to be very mindful of maintaining a discussion with residents about their needs, and doing the right thing for Wairoa's environment,

"At the end of the day I'll still be on Fenton watch. He will need to be closer to us, as well as representing us in the region."

The tight margin between himself, an opponent of the dam, and Mr Wilson meant the "strength of the argument against the Ruataniwha Dam was made clear".

Mr Wilson will be sworn in alongside the other newly-elected, or re-elected councillors at the Inaugural Regional Council Meeting on Wednesday, October 26.

During the meeting they will also vote to select the chairman of the Regional Council.

When asked if he would contest the seat again, Mr Whaanga said, "without a doubt".

"Nothing is impossible, it's just if you hit the right notes of the waiata at the right time."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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