Mai and Carter are North's new Mayors

By Mike Dinsdale

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Sheryl Mai speaking at the Forum North Exhibition Hall meet-the-mayoral candidates evening where she got to say why she should get the job. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
Sheryl Mai speaking at the Forum North Exhibition Hall meet-the-mayoral candidates evening where she got to say why she should get the job. PHOTO/JOHN STONE

Northland has new mayors with former district councillor Sheryl Mai sweeping into power in Whangarei and former Northland MP John Carter getting more than three times the vote of incumbent Wayne Brown in the Far North.

The race to be the new mayor of Whangarei was the most crowded ever, with 12 candidates _ Stuart Bell, Glenn Chapman, Crichton Christie, Vince Cocurullo, Shelley Deeming, Ms Mai, Greg Martin, Isopo Samu, Stan Semenoff, Warren Slater, Warwick Syers and Graham Tadman _ putting
their hats into the ring after incumbent Morris Cutforth did not stand for re-election.

In the Far North the mayoral race was between Mr Brown, Mr Carter, deputy mayor Ann Court, Mita Harris, Rueben Taipari Porter, Allan Titford and Sarah Watson.

Shortly before 4pm today Ms Mai got the call from Whangarei District Council CEO Mark Simpson to tell her she was the winner in the provisional results with 4897 votes, Mr Martin second with 3739, Mr Semenoff third with 3188 and Mr Cocurullo fourth with 2490.

There were 22,073 votes cast for the mayoralty and with around 1000 special still votes to count, Ms Mai's majority won't be overturned.

In the Far North Mr Carter pulled in more than half of the votes cast with 8571, compared to Mr Brown's 2502. Ms Court was third with 1903 and Mr Harris fourth with 1153. There were 16,097 votes cast in the mayoralty.

Ms Mai said she was delighted, and humbled, when she got the call, but she had been keeping an eye on updated results as they came through. She said she ran a good campaign and her clear majority showed that it struck a chord with people, who wanted a change.

``I think people wanted a fresh face from the old guard, but somebody with experience on council, and having served terms on council helped,'' Ms Mai said.

She was a Whangarei District Councillor from 2004 to 2010 and said one of the first issues that needed to be sorted out in her tenure as Mayor was the controversial and divisive Hundertwasser Arts Centre.

``We have to resolve the Hundertwasser conflict. That's got to be a topic given priority early on. We have to take a good look at the project and decide one way or the other and then move on. It's been quite divisive and we need to resolve it quickly,'' Ms Mai said.

She said another issue that needed attention was safety on the streets of the city at night.

Ms Mai said it needed all of the community to work together to make the streets safer, but the council had a big role to play.

``It's sad that people don't feel safe on or streets. It's definitely something we need to deal with as a community and we will and as a council we can give some clear leadership,'' she said.

Mr Carter said from his Waipapakauri Ramp home where he was celebrating with friends and supporters he was delighted with the result and pleased by the size of his huge majority. He said he was not going to take things for granted, but the feedback during the campaign was that he
had a very good chance of winning.

He attributes his success to his many years of representing Northland in the past and hard work on the campaign trail in which he drove more than 10,000km and shook more than 6000 hands.

Mr Carter said his first priorities were to restore a sense of respect for the council among the community and to unify the council. Mr Brown sent Mr Carter a congratulatory text after the results came through.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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