More than 10,000km on the road and 6000 handshakes helped win over the Far North, newly elected mayor John Carter says.
The former Northland MP won the mayoral race with a landslide 9513 votes, more than three times the 2838 votes of two-term incumbent Wayne Brown. His 6600-plus majority is bigger even than Mr Brown's when he swept into office in a 2007 landslide.
Mr Carter celebrated with supporters at his Waipapakauri Ramp home, overlooking Ninety Mile Beach, before continuing the party at a Kaitaia restaurant on Saturday evening.
He was pleased with the magnitude of his win, saying it reflected his 24 years representing Northland in Parliament as well as a campaign that had seen him cover 10,000km and shake more than 6000 hands.
Mr Carter, 63, said his top priority was rebuilding trust in the council and earning the respect of the public. That had been lost in recent years but he believed he could rebuild it.
''We are servants of the people, we should never forget that. It's the people who are funding us so they have a right to respect and to expect service.''
He was keen to adopt a scheme pioneered by Otorohanga Mayor Dale Williams to drive down youth unemployment and wanted to see the council's finances presented in a way the public could understand. The election's balanced results - with five men and five women, five old members and five new - offered a chance for a well-organised and unified council, he said.
Outgoing mayor Wayne Brown was gracious in defeat, sending Mr Carter a congratulatory text shortly after the initial results were announced. He was sure his successor would do his best for the district and he was only a phone call away if needed.
He said he had no regrets and was not disappointed by the size of his loss.
''It's just as it is. I've been an engineering contractor all my life. You win some contracts, you don't win others. I've won elections, I didn't win this one.''
He said his ''edgy'' mayoral style could have cost him votes, as well as pushing politically risky issues such as Maori representation and mining because he believed they were the right things to do.
Mr Brown said his main achievement was improving the council's finances, despite the financial crisis, while also building new infrastructure such as Te Ahu, the coast-to-coast cycle way and the Kerikeri sports complex.
His only concern about the new council was its lack of business experience.
His immediate post-mayoral plan was to hit the Ahipara surf on Sunday; after that he had plenty of business plans to pursue.
''Anyone who thinks I don't have a whole lot of surprises up my sleeve doesn't know me,'' he said.
Third in the mayoral race was deputy mayor Ann Court with 2209 votes. While initially disappointed with her share of the vote she said she was delighted by the "dream team" of councillors who had been elected.
She was followed by Mita Harris (1289 votes), Rueben Taipari Porter (999), Sarah Watson (529) and Allan-John Titford (411).
The figures are provisional. The final results, including special votes, will be released on Thursday.
The new council consists of Colin Kitchen, David Collard and Mate Radich (Te Hiku ward); Ann Court, Willow-Jean Prime, Di Maxwell and Tania McInnes (Bay of Islands-Whangaroa ward); and John Vujcich and Sally Macauley (Kaikohe-Hokianga ward).