The new Rangitikei mayor was out at Marton Golf Course yesterday, helping with a fundraiser.

Andy Watson doesn't play golf but as a Rotarian he was part of the combined clubs effort to make some money for Duddings Lake projects.

Sitting in the clubrooms talking to the Chronicle, he said his first reaction to winning "was a little bit of relief" and the second was a degree of regret. His mother Margaret died in Wanganui Hospital during the mayoral campaign.

"My mother's father was mayor so it felt fantastic to win for her.


"But I feel I must apologise as I didn't spend as much time in some communities as I could have."

Mr Watson ousted two-term mayor Chalky Leary and he thinks it was simply that "people thought it was time for a change.

"I think they wanted more of a business approach towards rates and it is imperative there is better communication between council and community.

"We have to be more open, and have more of the committee structure in the public domain."

He said as an example, having community representatives part of discussions about Marton water infrastructure development worked very well.

"They provided a very good sounding board and went out to the community with the information."

He said the Wallace Development issue in Bulls might have also played a part in Mr Leary missing out, but he also thinks some groups in Bulls have to get better at working together.

"But yes, issues like the old jail mean the trust in the council has been eroded a little."


Mr Watson, a former deputy mayor from Marton, thinks changes to laws and regulations this term will see mayors operate somewhat differently, having greater input into decision making. He will appoint the deputy mayor, after talking with the other councillors.

Among his first jobs as mayor will be to draw up a list of infrastructure work that is required and work out what has to be done, what is the most cost effective and what is "nice to have" but not essential.

"And then we have to match it against the total rate demand and see how to split that into the various communities of interest."

He expects to work closely with Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor and Wanganui's Annette Main.

"I know Jono already and Annette as well. I am a big supporter of Annette and what she is doing. A good friend of mine has just been elected to Ruapehu [Don Cameron] so there are plenty of people to talk to."

He expects the close co-operation and shared resourcing between Manawatu and Rangitikei to continue, with Rangitikei perhaps supplying resources to its larger neighbour in the next three years.

"It's a two-way street."

Mr Watson said he wanted to thank all those who had supported him.

"My wife Beth and I love this district. Council has been a passion which I hold dear."

Mayoral results: WATSON, Andy 1847, LEARY, Chalky 1373, BRANNIGAN, Maree (Fresh Future Focus) 632, ASLETT, Richard (Independent) 547.