It looks like incumbent Horizons councillor for Horizons Regional Council, Lindsay Burnell, may miss out. With 95 per cent of the votes counted Sam Ferguson has 4956 votes and Emma Clarke 3400. Burnell currently has 3337 votes, with votes in transit and special votes still to be counted.
Sam Ferguson said he ran for the regional council last time and missed out but he is a bit shocked at the margin he has clocked up this time.
"I have been out in the community a lot, organising street-corner meetings to show my face everywhere and to listen to people and hear their stories."
He expects a steep learning curve once he starts his tenure. "I need to learn first off how the organisation operates."
He said his passions are for public transport, water quality and climate change. "I'd love to work with the industry to achieve better water quality across the region and it is great to see that someone like Emma Clarke might be at the table."
Clarke, 42, was pleased to be voted in after what had been a tough campaign that was hindered by poor health and a stay in Palmerston North Hospital.
The mother of four underwent major surgery for a health complaint during her campaign and spent four nights in hospital having intravenous antibiotics.
With ill-health now behind her, she was pleased to have been elected over what she saw was a high calibre of candidates, and wanted to thank those that supported her campaign.
Clarke, a Massey University graduate, was employed at the family business Woodhaven Gardens and felt through her experience she was in a good position to understand the balance needed to achieve an end goal - sustainability.
To achieve sustainability, all economic, social, cultural and environmental factors had to be addressed and balanced with reality, she said.
Clarke said she had already grown in confidence through the campaign process and was confident she would grow in the new role.
"I've had a bit to do with Horizons ... I wanted to challenge myself to be part of the sustainable solution," she said.
"There is some wonderful stuff being proposed and the challenge is to balance that with reality."
Outgoing councillor Lindsay Burnell is a "little disappointed, but that's life," he said.
"I am proud of what I have achieved. I always felt people come first and I wish Sam and Emma good luck."
Burnell spent 12 years on Horizons and has tried to advocate for an holistic approach, taking into account the entire region.
Going forward he said he has plenty to do. "I am healthy and free of disease, having had my face recobnstructed after skin cancer.
"I will have more time for my family and I expect our evenings will be quieter and my wife will not get as many phone calls as she has done in the past twelve years."