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Aaron Hawkins (35), a two-term Dunedin city councillor and now the city's mayor-elect, has become a regular sight on the side of the road at Port Chalmers, waggling a thumb at passing traffic, in recent years.
He said yesterday he had no plans to change the habit, despite his victory on Saturday, and had already turned down the use of a mayoral car as part of his new pay packet.
Mr Hawkins, who lives in Port Chalmers, said he preferred to hitchhike to the city in the mornings and then catch the bus home later in the day.
Hitchhiking was quicker and a more efficient use of time than catching a 7.50am bus to make a 9am meeting, he said.
But it also gave him 15 minutes of ''unfiltered'' views from those who picked him up, be they friends or strangers, offering a fresh perspective on the community's views, he said.
''Some people had no idea who you were, and that was always great.''
The hitching habit had also been born of necessity, as neither Mr Hawkins or wife Anya Sinclair held a driver's licence when they moved to Port Chalmers several years ago, he said.
Mr Hawkins had always lived in the city, and either walked or caught a bus, but Ms Sinclair was seven months pregnant when they arrived in Port Chalmers, he said.
As a result, both started learning to drive, but disaster struck in 2016.
Ms Sinclair, by then on her restricted licence, was driving Mr Hawkins and their baby son Emile to Christchurch, when their car struck black ice while travelling at close to 100kmh.
''We just kind of started fish-tailing and then smashed into a power pole where my elbow was, and then rolled and landed upside down.
''Our son ... came out of his car seat when the car rolled and [Anya] climbed out from underneath me and picked him up in a pile of broken glass.''
Ms Sinclair and their son both escaped serious injury, and Mr Hawkins received a badly broken arm. Police later described the accident as ''near fatal''.
''It certainly dampened my enthusiasm for driving a motor vehicle. That kind of anxiety hasn't been particularly conducive,'' Mr Hawkins said yesterday.
Now, instead of taking up the offer of the mayoral car, Mr Hawkins would receive a slightly higher annual pay packet, of $166,500.
Mr Hawkins said he had no plans to stop flying to China, as the head of future mayoral delegations, despite the resulting CO2 emissions.
Mr Hawkins pointed out the trick to tackling climate change was a bit bigger than his personal travel plans.
''I think maintaining the relationship we have with China is important.
''I think focusing on individual action as a solution to the zero carbon transition is a red herring, when we need structural and systemic change.''
Also, hitchhiking to work would go some way to offsetting those flights, by reducing his carbon footprint, and deliver other benefits for the disaffected.
''The irony of the whole campaign is that it is my election that has freed up a car parking space.''