Greg Gent elected Kaipara mayor

By Alexandra Newlove

1 comment
Kaipara's first mayor in more than 4 years - Greg Gent - pictured at his Ruawai home. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
Kaipara's first mayor in more than 4 years - Greg Gent - pictured at his Ruawai home. PHOTO/JOHN STONE

Kaipara's first elected leaders in more than four years have been named, with experienced businessman Greg Gent to become the district's mayor.

The preliminary result for the 2016 local body elections was announced this morning, with Kaipara's eight councillors to include Libby Jones, Peter Wethey and Jonathan Larsen in the Otamatea Ward; Andrew Wade and Karen Joyce-Paki in Dargaville; Anna Curnow, Victoria De La Varis-Woodcock and Julie Geange in West Coast Central.

The result would be officially confirmed on Thursday.

Mr Gent, of Ruawai, earned nearly four times as many "1" rankings in the single transferrable vote system as nearest rival and Mangawhai resident Bruce Rogan.

Mr Gent ran a campaign mainly based off advertisements in the local paper, stating his aims and qualifications: 20 years' governance experience including as chairman of Northland Dairy and Kiwi Dairy companies, and deputy chairman of Fonterra.

He chairs Southern Cross Health Group and FMG and he said prior to the election that he would need to trim down his commitments outside Kaipara if he was elected.

Final voter turnout was still to be announced: 32.6 per cent of eleigible Kaipara residents voted in the 2013 election and 53.5 per cent in 2010.

Kaipara residents were unable to elect a mayor and district councillors in 2013, due to the council being under the stewardship of Government-appointed commissioners. This likely contributed to 2013's low turnout.

This year, 15 people put themselves forward for council seats, while four men vied for the mayoralty.

Kaipara's eight new councillors and the mayor will enter a time of austerity, as they grapple to pay down the council's $65 million of debt, wracked up under the councillors who stepped aside in 2012.

The councillors and mayor are charged with the governance of KDC, so set the strategic direction and make major decisions, but are not responsible for the day-to-day operations.

They in fact only have one direct employee, chief executive Graham Sibery, who is in turn responsible for the staff who implement decisions, make recommendations and keep councillors informed.

The Kaipara mayor is paid $93,244 annually, while councillor salaries default at $26,855. The deputy mayor and committee chairs, selected internally post-election, received slightly more.

Councillors' key role is to make decisions that will promote community well-being, now and for the future. This generally involves being in touch with their communities, research, setting policy, making regulatory decisions, and reviewing council's overall performance.

- Northern Advocate

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