Hamilton Mayoralty recount after Andrew King's nine-vote win over Paula Southgate

By Ged Cann -
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Paula Southgate has confirmed she will seek a recount of the Hamilton Mayoralty after losing to Andrew King by just nine votes.

The two candidates have been waiting since Saturday to find out who will be the city's next mayor. Before special votes were counted, King held the lead by just 14 votes.

A council spokesperson said today's official results include all valid special votes, which have been validated and counted.

If King loses the re-count he will get a seat on the West Ward where he came in second to Martin Gallagher with 7682 votes.

In a statement, Southgate said confirmed she will be seeking a recount, but in the meantime would pick up her duties as a Hamilton City Councillor for the East Ward.

"Part of me would rather not do a recount because of the further uncertainty it creates. But my supporters feel very strongly that I should because the margin is so close and I owe it to them to do that."

She said she had been inundated with messages of support.

She offered her congratulations to King, despite being "hugely disappointed" in the result.

"I've rung Andrew and offered my genuine congratulations and wished him all the best.

"Of course, I'm hugely disappointed. To be so close, and be pipped by just nine votes is crushing. But I know there is absolutely nothing else I could have done. I pushed myself to the limit in the campaign and did all I could.

"People seem absolutely stunned but that's democracy isn't it? I've had a number of people say if they had known it was going to be so close, they would have voted.

"Well, I guess there's a lesson to be learned from that."

As for her plans in the immediate future, she said she is still battling laryngitis and a chest infection so would focus "on getting well before taking a short family break".

Meanwhile, King said he was so excited by the result that he nearly cried.

"It's exciting. I nearly cried - but I didn't. But yeah, it's pretty cool. I really wasn't hanging my hat on it. It could have gone either way."

King said the first person he told the news to was his wife, Anne - who he had to wake up as she is in India, followed by his father and father-in-law, neither of whom have the internet.

"Anne was over the moon and my father he was very excited, he thought that I would get there but it was just so close."

He is yet to decide who his deputy would be.

He said the result could have gone either way, but in the end "it's a family in Hamilton that's made the difference".

He found out the news after receiving a call from council chief executive Richard Briggs who welcomed him to the job.

A key issue which saw him get on the wrong side of some voters, was the proposed Ferrybank Development which is to sit alongside the Waikato River in the CBD.

Mr King said that while he did not object to the $208million project he did disagreed with the commercialisation of an area currently designated a reserve, and he was particularly objected to plans for a five-storey apartment block on the land.

If Southgate does get the Mayoralty, Siggi Henry will have to give up her seat for King, however she sits just 19 votes behind next highest polling candidate Geoff Taylor.

In the East, Southgate's Mayoralty will open the door for family-friendly candidate Angela Strange, who campaigned for a family-friendly city as well as hours for sitting councillors.

If the results stand, Southgate will keep her East Ward councillor seat - raking in a whopping 9409 votes - well ahead of next highest Rob Pascoe, who was elected with 6672 votes. Other winners in the East Ward were James Casson, 6280; Philip Yeung, 6027; Garry Mallett, 5274; and Mark Bunting, 5206.

A declaration of results will be published on Saturday and elected members take office the day after.

However, an elected member cannot act until after they have been officially sworn in, which is scheduled for October 27.

Any candidate wanting to seek a judicial recount has three days after the public notice - until the end of business on October 18 - to lodge an application with the District Court.

Electoral officer Dale Ofsoske said the cost of a recount will be between $30,000 and $35,000 but is covered by council's insurance policy.

As the vote has been challenged King, who secured the most votes from the first count, would still be appointed Mayor at the designated time of Sunday, October 16.

The swearing in, which designates the point at which the mayoralty is fully ratified and is granted mayoral powers, is scheduled for October 27, giving time for the recount to take place.

If the result comes out as a tie the law dictates the successful candidate must be picked by lot - for example flipping a coin or drawing names from a hat.

The result of the recount won't be known until late October or early November.

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