The local body election results, which were provisionally announced on Saturday follow a great deal of hard work by every one of the candidates who put their name forward.
I certainly appreciate the level of commitment required to throw your hat in the ring, and also the significant contribution of friends and family who are called upon to help with hoardings, brochures and all manner of things. Of course it's all for a great cause.
These elections decide who is on our local council, regional council, district health board, and other important organisations in our area.
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The people who are elected get to make decisions that affect our daily lives and the future of our town or city. It is their role to represent and champion our communities and it was great that throughout our region and across the various councils and boards up for selection, we had a diverse array of high calibre candidates.
It was both interesting and heartening that the current sitting mayors in Whanganui and Rangitikei – Hamish McDouall and Andy Watson – were elected unopposed. A credit to their professionalism, competence and the high regard in which they are held by their communities.
It seems that in many respects, experience counted for the majority of voters in Whanganui. All 10 sitting councillors who stood for re-election were successful, with two newbies, Brent Crossan and James Barron making up the 12.
Similarly on the Whanganui District Health Board, all of the incumbents were re-elected, while Josh Chandulal-Mackay is the only new face at the table.
It was a different story with the Rangitikei District Council where of the 27 candidates standing for 11 seats, 22 of them were newcomers. As the MP of a vast rural and provincial electorate it was pleasing to note that a number of candidates campaigned on a platform of protecting our rural heartland, supporting future-focused growth and sustainable development, and being an advocate for our rural communities.
The Horizons Regional Council, which comprises six constituencies and is represented by 12 councillors was for the most part hotly contested.
The Whanganui constituency was the exception with David Cotton and Nicola Patrick elected unopposed. Meanwhile in Manawatu-Rangitikei John Turkington and Bruce Gordon polled the highest respectively and take the two seats. Sitting member Gordon McKellar who has served for the past nine years was not re-elected, though his significant contribution to our region over the years must be noted.
Whatever the result, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the candidates who stood this year – and those who supported them in their endeavours. These organisations provide vital functions and networks, amenities and services in our community – and we need good people to run them.
If you were amongst the 56 per cent of people in Whanganui who didn't vote, or the 53 per cent in Rangitikei, then not a peep out of you 'til 2022!
I believe the right to vote is a privilege that should not be wasted – and it's one which is not afforded to all people. If you're not on the electoral roll then sign up now so you can make your voice heard in next year's general election - because every vote does count!