There's no place for Bill Shepherd in the new Northland Regional Council after second-term Councillor Joce Yeoman pipped him by a slender 37 votes in a hard-fought race.
Although Shepherd, NRC chairman in the last council, led Yeoman by 61 votes in progress results, the preliminary vote count reversed their fortunes and had her leading by 14 votes.
Final figures that were expected to be released on Thursday but were delayed more than doubled Yeoman's slender majority to 37 votes.
She received 5678 votes and newcomer, GE Free Northland spokesman Marty Robinson with 6578 represent the sprawling Coastal North constituency which stretches from north of Hikurangi to beyond Kerikeri.
Former Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels managed 4229 votes and was eliminated together with Shepherd who got 5641 votes in the final count.
Yeoman was ecstatic but at the same time felt a "degree of sadness" for Shepherd who she said brought a lot of experience to the table and gave everything to his role as chairman.
"At the end of the day, voters have spoken but only just. Close-fought battles like these are good for Northland. Our constituency had more voter turnout than the last election and we had seven candidates' meetings and all were well-attended," She said.
A huge amount of involvement in developing the Regional Plan and being out and about a lot in the community secured her the end result, Yeoman said.
On whether she thought Shepherd's decision to lead the controversial NRC decision to omit precautionary rules against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from the proposed Northland Regional Plan affected his re-election, Yeoman said it was a factor.
"Unfortunately, the GMO issue came to the fore prior to the election through questions received at candidates' meetings. It was a factor in terms of the results but it was more than just the GMO, given it came down to just 37 votes."
GE Free Northland chairperson Zelka Grammer said Shepherd paid a political price for his attitude towards GMO.
"But it's good to see fresh blood and new expertise with the likes of Marty Robinson, Jack Craw, Colin Kitchen so it's going to be exciting going forward."
Shepherd could not be reached for comment.
Yeoman is keen to put her hand up for the role of NRC chairman — a position she long aspired for— but said the Councillors would need to discuss it first.
One of the first orders of business for the new council will be the swearing in of Councillors, then selection of the new chair and his or her deputy.
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Elsewhere in Northland, final votes delivered four new faces to the nine-member NRC.
Newcomers include Amy Macdonald, whose 2182 votes saw her take out the hotly-contested Coastal Central Constituency over five other hopefuls, including the man who had previously held the seat, Paul Dimery.
On final voting, Cr Macdonald managed 2182 votes to Dimery's 1639.
Two councillors - Kaipara's Penny Smart and Hokianga-Kaikohe's Justin Blaikie - had already been re-elected unopposed when nominations closed in August.
Mike Finlayson lost the Te Hiku constituency to Colin "Toss" Kitchen, while long-time Whangārei Councillor John Bain and Jack Craw got in ahead of former NRC deputy chairman David Sinclair.
Rick Stolwerk retained the Coastal South Constituency.
A powhiri for the new council and its inaugural meeting will be held on October 29 and the public are invited.
Full election results are available online via www.nrc.govt.nz/electionresults.
New NRC Councillors:
Coastal Central constituency— Amy Macdonald
Coastal North constituency— Marty Robinson, Jocelyn Yeoman.
Coastal South constituency— Rick Stolwerk.
Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency— Justin Blaikie (elected unopposed)
Kaipara constituency— Penny Smart (elected unopposed)
Te Hiku constituency— Colin "Toss" Kitchen.
Whangārei Urban constituency— John Bain, Jack Craw