Preliminary election results: Christchurch

By Jarrod Booker

69, 621 - Bob Parker
53, 024 - Jim Anderton
(Final count begins today)

Bob Parker and wife Jo Nicholls-Parker look forward to a holiday when the dust settles. Photo / Simon Baker
Bob Parker and wife Jo Nicholls-Parker look forward to a holiday when the dust settles. Photo / Simon Baker

He has seen Christchurch through the darkest days after the earthquake.

And now that his city has rewarded him by returning him to office, re-elected Mayor Bob Parker sees his next term as a chance to turn the adversity into prosperity.

Mr Parker - whose leadership after Canterbury's devastating 7.1-magnitude quake helped him to an unofficial majority of 16,597 over rival Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton - thinks the quake could help Christchurch to steal a march on the rest of New Zealand.

"There is, in the midst of all of this destruction, a unique opportunity for us as a city," he told the Herald as he relaxed at home after his election win.

"The brand of Christchurch has had massive global exposure, albeit with ... crumbled brick and lots of that drama.

"I see that as an enormous opportunity, and we will be following up on that very quickly.

"Yes, there are parts of the fabric of the city that will need to be repaired, and that's an exciting proposition as much as it is a daunting proposition."

On top of the tourism opportunities, the latest estimate was that up to $6 billion could be spent in the city on rebuilding and repairs.

"We are talking an employment boom. We are talking an investment opportunity. And we are talking a city that will move towards an economic recovery faster than any other city in New Zealand, simply because of the scale of the reinvestment."

Mr Parker said he had learned lessons from his previous term in office and from his poor polling before the September 4 earthquake, when he was trailing Mr Anderton.

"I think there has been a view from some that the council isn't open and transparent enough. It's not true, but we will put in place processes that I think can open up the work we do even more."

Mr Anderton said the earthquake was the difference in the mayoral race.

Mr Parker said that might be true. But he felt his rival ran an "unnecessarily personal" and negative mayoral campaign.

After the many long hours worked after the earthquake, Mr Parker was looking forward to a holiday with his wife, Jo Nicholls-Parker, when the "time is right".

The Christchurch City Council has undergone change.

New blood - Tim Carter, Aaron Keown and Jamie Gough - has come in, and experienced councillors David Cox and Bob Shearing appear to have been ousted.

Based on the preliminary election result, with special votes still to be counted, Mr Shearing missed out on a council seat by only 29 votes.

- NZ Herald

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