Michael Feyen is already making plans to deliver the shake-up he says the Horowhenua District has asked for.
He holds a narrow lead over four-term mayor Brendan Duffy with only special votes to be counted.
"I campaigned on representing the people... so that governance sets the direction and management implements it," he said.
"I think not only in this council but councils in general, it's been management that have been setting the direction and just getting us to tick the boxes. Governance needs to resume control of councils."
Mr Feyen said the community had made it clear it wanted to be listened to by council.
"We had a mini Bastion Point happen around our cenotaph a few weeks ago... many of the soldiers have fought for democracy and freedom of speech which many people think is denied now.
"I mean this year we had no submissions on the annual plan allowed. Just about all the time people asking for public speaking rights are turned down.
"Those sorts of this are going to change. I definitely want to bring people back into council. Simple as that."
Water quality has been a big issue in the district too.
"In the interim that is going to mean a lot of infrastructure costs and we're at a council right at the end of what we can actually use in money terms," Mr Feyen said.
"So what I'm going to try and do and speak to council about is to have a water station at Foxton and a water station at Foxton Beach with a filtration system similar to Tokomaru where people at least can get free drinking water."
Mr Feyen holds a thin 117-vote lead in the mayoral race and that is not expected to change when results are confirmed later this week.