The saying "what a difference a day makes" is echoing across Northland with regional council candidate Joce Yeoman appearing to have tipped long-time local politician and previous council chairman Bill Shepherd off his perch.
Yeoman, who is already an incumbent Northland Regional Council member for the sprawling Coastal North constituency, is 14 votes ahead of Shepherd after special votes have been counted, whereas yesterday she was 61 votes behind him.
That reversal of election day fortunes puts Yeoman as second highest poller for the seat, where the biggest vote by a long stretch went to first time candidate Marty Robinson, with 6465 votes.
The former president of GE Free Northland, Robinson gained a whopping nearly 1000 votes more than Shepherd who led the controversial decision of the NRC to leave precautionary policy regarding genetic engineering out of the regional plan.
Yeoman and Shepherd will have a nervous wait until Thursday when the final count will confirm whether Yeoman has held on to her narrowest of margins.
Former deputy chair David Sinclair, was also tipped out of his Whangarei Urban constituency seat by newcomer and biosecurity specialist Jack Craw who polled 723 votes more. Long-time councillor John Bain retained his seat – one of two positions available – with the leading 5673 votes.
Elsewhere in Northland, yesterday's preliminary votes confirmed the delivery of four new faces to the nine-member regional council.
They include Amy Macdonald, whose 2148 votes saw her take out the hotly-contested Coastal Central Constituency over five other hopefuls, including the man who previously held the seat, Paul Dimery.
Other councillors to lose their seats included Mike Finlayson who lost the Te Hiku constituency to former Far North District Councillor Colin "Toss" Kitchen, whose 3405 votes were 827 more than Finlayson.
Voters in the Coastal South Constituency returned Rick Stolwerk.
Two councillors, Kaipara's Penny Smart and Hokianga-Kaikohe's Justin Blaikie, had already been re-elected unopposed.
A powhiri for the new council and its inaugural meeting will be held from 9am on Tuesday October 29, with the public welcome to attend. One of the first orders of business will be the swearing-in of councillors, then selection of the new chair and their deputy.
Full election results are available online via www.nrc.govt.nz/electionresults