Western Bay of Plenty residents have spoken, re-electing incumbent mayor Garry Webber to the role. But why? Reporter Kiri Gillespie sits with Webber at his Ōmokoroa home shortly after learning the results to find out why he thinks people voted for him, what his proudest moments of his first tenure have been, and what he plans to do for the district in the next three years. It soon becomes clear, Webber is not mucking around.
Western Bay of Plenty's re-elected mayor often asks himself "how do we make sure this is a better place?".
It was partly why from this mantra, plus "strong financial management", that Garry Webber believed he had been voted in again.
With preliminary results released Sunday night, Webber was announced mayor of Western Bay of Plenty having received 6484 votes. Fellow mayoral contenders Margaret Murray-Benge received 5165 and Stephen Fawcett 1886. Final results will be announced later in the week.
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The former dairy boss quietly celebrated the win with family at his Ōmokoroa home.
With wife Carole by his side and a view of Mauao in the background, Webber reflected on his first season as mayor and why he thought people voted for him again.
"I think I've done a reasonably good job. Some would say 'no' and some would say 'absolutely yes'," he said.
"[I'm proud of] getting Western Bay into the strong position it is, where I think it will be one of the leading councils in New Zealand, given what we've started."
Webber spoke of the council's financial and executive performance, particularly in light of
meeting the Government's Three Waters review where so many other councils had failed.
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Part of this involved the district's high rates - the highest of its kind in New Zealand but Webber said the Western Bay had "future-proofed itself".
Webber is not resting on any laurels.
Tomorrow morning, Webber will meet with council chief executive Miriam Taris to go over restructure plans to the council's community boards.
Webber wants to restructure the boards into committees, allowing for better representation of Western Bay communities.
"Under the current community boards structure, only about 50 per cent of our residents are represented. I think that's unfair."
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The potential changes could be in place before Christmas and was Webber's Number 1 project for his first 100 days.
Creating a support structure for the younger generation of elected members coming through and a succession plan for seasoned councillors leaving was another project Webber was keen to explore. The region's roading and infrastructure matters were also on his list of issues needing urgent attention.
"I'm hopeful that with the new mayor in Tauranga, we can form a far stronger relationship between Tauranga City Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and ourselves to really move on these roading issues, which I believe have not been addressed over the last 15 years. Collectively, we have to be held to account."
Webber spoke with newly-elected Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell shortly after his victory was announced.
Webber was encouraged by the changes to council line-ups, both with Western Bay and Tauranga City.
"Hopefully that's a message from the public to 'get on with it', 'stop mucking around and make the hard decisions'."
When asked to describe his leadership style, Webber responded with "to underpromise and overdeliver".
"If you can't do that, you are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone."
Webber uses the words "team" and "community" a lot.
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Carole sits next to Webber and silently nods her head when it is suggested whether he prioritises people.
"I'm passionate about community engagement," he explained.
"If you can't do better for the people around you, what are you serving the people for? Not yourself. It's the people that put you where you are."
Fawcett congratulated Webber on the win, saying he could have been his pick.
Murray-Benge, who also stood for a council seat and was successful, said she would wait until special votes were counted before conceding her loss.
In her view, Murray-Benge said Webber was lucky to receive the votes he had and that he had an advantage as a sitting mayor.
She looked forward to "get stuck into the issues" when the new council was sworn in next month.
Western Bay of Plenty Council
Re-elected mayor: Garry Webber
IN: Monique Lints (new), John Scrimgeour, Kevin Marsh, Grant Dally (Te Puke-Maketu Ward), Margaret Murray-Benge, Don Thwaites, Mark Dean, Murray Grainger (new) (Kaimai Ward), James Denyer (new), Christina Humphreys (new), Anne Henry (new) (Katikati-Waihi Beach Ward)
OUT: Mike Lally, John Palmer, David Marshall, Peter Mackay, Mike Williams