Andrew King or Paula Southgate: Who will be breaking out the bubbly?

By Jamie Morton, John Cousins, Ged Cann

Hamilton's Andrew King - leading the mayoral race by a whisker - has led a visible campaign. Photo: Facebook
Hamilton's Andrew King - leading the mayoral race by a whisker - has led a visible campaign. Photo: Facebook

The race for Hamilton's top job proved one of the tightest in the country, with progress results last night suggesting the mayoralty had swung by a whisker to Andrew King.

The numbers last night showed King, a first-term councillor who had been considered an underdog in a four-way race, with 8003 votes - and Paula Southgate fewer than 150 votes behind on 7863.

So narrow was the battle that preliminary results - including special votes and votes received at libraries and council offices yesterday - weren't expected to be through until this morning.

"It's very exciting, we're not there yet but it is exciting," said King, who wasn't willing to break out the bubbly until the final results came in.

Last night, he said he'd be staying up until the final vote count was finalised.

While King's billboards had been the most visible around Hamilton, he felt it was his consistency that had pulled in the voters.

"If you look at my booklet from the start, what I said then was exactly the same message I'm saying today. It's about truth and transparency and I've never diverged from those messages."

Southgate yesterday said she remained optimistic and was flattered to have been the highest polling candidate in the city's East Ward.

"All credit to Andrew for running a strong campaign. No matter what happens I hope I can make a positive impact on the city."

Greg Brownless had been tending to the garden when he got the call that he was Tauranga's new mayor. Photo: Andrew Warner
Greg Brownless had been tending to the garden when he got the call that he was Tauranga's new mayor. Photo: Andrew Warner

On the other side of the Kaimai Ranges, the outcome was much clearer, with former Tauranga deputy mayor Greg Brownless stepping into outgoing Stuart Crosby's long-held job. One hour before he heard he had been elected mayor, he was balancing up whether to move the chicken coop or mow the lawns. Then the news came through.

With fresh lawn clippings still on his trousers, Tauranga's new mayor said with characteristic candour that he thought the result would have been a lot closer.

"I have got a good mandate to go forward sensibly," he said yesterday.

"I don't want to be a do-nothing person, but not a person that breaks the bank."

He had rated himself as at least a medal prospect, with a good chance of winning.

But with a provisional margin of 1951 votes over runner-up Kelvin Clout, it ended up being a two-horse race, with the other top pollers Doug Owens and Max Mason a long way back.

Asked why he thought he won with such a healthy mandate, Brownless put it down to being an all-rounder, not the best businessman and not the worst.

The former owner of Legacy Funerals - who gifted the business to the community - downplayed the part his philanthropy played in winning. Brownless thought it was more about him being well known around town.

"Perhaps people feel a connection with me, and that was long before I decided to run for the mayoralty."

In Rotorua, victory was bitter-sweet for a re-elected Steve Chadwick.

Steve Chadwick has won a second term as Rotorua's mayor. Photo: Stephen Parker
Steve Chadwick has won a second term as Rotorua's mayor. Photo: Stephen Parker

While the former Labour MP was thrilled she'd been returned to the leadership for a second term, she remained disappointed comrades Karen Hunt and Janet Wepa had missed out on spots on the council.

"Both of them have been very hard working councillors leading their portfolios."

Chadwick, who took 7880 votes ahead of her nearest contender Dr Reynold Macpherson, with 5652, has confirmed Dave Donaldson will again be her deputy mayor.

Meanwhile, in Thames-Coromandel it was another former MP who won the mayoral chains - but only just.

A former three-term Coromandel MP for National, Sandra Goudie said she was "ecstatic" after edging out Peter French with 5584 votes to the former deputy mayor's 5103.

Goudie, who takes the reins from Glenn Leach, had been helping her mother shift some beds when she found her phone was backed up with missed phone calls.

A quick chat with council chief executive Rob Williams confirmed she'd won the race, though she conceded it was a "close-run thing".

In Hauraki District, John Tregidga was keen to spend his fifth term as mayor getting the Hauraki Rail Trail completed and driving economic development and jobs in the region.

- NZ Herald

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