Northland Regional Council elections are run on the First Past the Post (FPP) system and, as with the other Northland local authorities, votes must be received by noon today.
Although most votes will have been returned via post or hand-delivered to council offices by then, others (including special votes) cast at district council offices on the day have to be taken to Auckland for counting and inclusion in the preliminary results.
The preliminary results will be available later today and the official result is expected to be declared late on Thursday, October 17.
While there are nine seats around the regional council table representing seven constituencies, two incumbent councillors have already been re-elected unopposed. They are Justin Blaikie in the Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency and Penny Smart in the Kaipara constituency.
That leaves 17 people vying for seven remaining seats to represent five constituencies.
Candidates by constituency are:
Coastal Central constituency (one vacancy): Maureen Adair, Maggie Buxton, Paul Dimery, Jeroen Jongejans, Amy Macdonald, Colin Peter Thew.
Coastal North constituency (two vacancies): Marty Robinson, Dover Samuels, Bill Shepherd, Jocelyn Yeoman.
Coastal South constituency (one vacancy): David Lourie, Rick Stolwerk.
Te Hiku constituency (one vacancy): Mike Finlayson, Colin Kitchen.
Whangārei Urban constituency (two vacancies): John Bain, Jack Craw, David Sinclair.
It is expected the inaugural meeting and a powhiri for the new council will be held from 9am on Tuesday, October 29, which the public is welcome to attend.
One of the first orders of business for the new council will be the swearing in of councillors, then their selection of the new chair and deputy. Unlike district councils, whose mayors are chosen by the public during the local elections, the regional council's chair is elected by the councillors.
Another early task the new council will consider is its governance structure, such as what will be the committees and their duties during the next three years, and who will chair them.
Three committees the NRC is legally required to have or be part of are: the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group (a joint committee of all four councils in Northland); Regional Transport Committee (selected representatives from the NRC, Northland's three district councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency); and Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē/Ninety Mile Beach Board (the NRC currently has two representatives on this board).
The new council will also need to allocate the remuneration pool already independently set by the Remuneration Authority. The only councillor whose exact post-election salary is determined will be the new chairperson, paid $126,500 which includes full private use of a council-owned vehicle. That will leave $580,951 for the remaining eight councillors. As a guide, the annual remuneration for the current deputy chair is $79,153 and all other councillors are paid $69,459.