Hawkins' lead grows in updated count

Aaron Hawkins
Aaron Hawkins
Dunedin Mayor-elect Aaron Hawkins extended his winning margin, while an ousted incumbent city councillor closed the gap, in updated voting results released yesterday.

A progress result released on Saturday afternoon - based on 95% of votes counted - had given Mr Hawkins 15,060 votes and a 1700-vote lead over his closest rival, Cr Lee Vandervis, who had 13,306 votes.

But updated preliminary results released yesterday gave Mr Hawkins 16,492 votes to Cr Vandervis' 14,097 votes, meaning the new mayor's margin of victory extended to 2395 votes.

And, while Mr Hawkins was celebrating his success, Cr Vandervis was quick to point the finger at the media.

He was not surprised by the result, but was surprised by "the level of personal untruths that have been levelled throughout".

He blamed the media for "a lack of debate around really important issues", like council debt, but said he would "keep moving, always looking forward".

In the updated results, the only incumbent councillor to be voted out, Damian Newell, improved his position slightly.

Saturday's results had put Cr Mike Lord at the bottom of the list of 14 elected councillors, just 67 votes ahead of Dunedin businessman Russell Lund, who was followed by Mr Newell in 16th.

But in yesterday's updated results, Mr Newell leapfrogged Mr Lund into 15th place, although the margin between Mr Newell and Cr Lord stretched slightly, to 181 votes.

Mr Lund trailed Cr Lord by 621 votes, and, with only about 1000 special votes still to count, the placings were not expected to change by the time final votes were confirmed mid-week.

Mr Newell could not be contacted yesterday, but Mr Lund told the Otago Daily Times he was "relieved" not to get elected once it was clear Cr Vandervis would not be the city's next mayor.

Mr Lund said he stood in the hope Cr Vandervis would win the mayoral race, which would have given the pair "a real chance to make a difference".

Being elected as a councillor, while Cr Vandervis missed out as mayor, would have led to "a frustrating and ultimately pointless three years".

He did not expect the results to change and was already "moving on".

"I'm concerned for the city, but personally I'm relieved that I'm not there."

The voting data showed Cr Vandervis had led Dunedin's mayoral race for much of the count, before second preferences snatched victory from him late in the piece.

Under the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, voters rank their preferred candidates in order, and then have their votes redistributed to second or subsequent picks if their first choice is eliminated.

The results showed it was only when Cr Christine Garey (with 7417 votes) was eliminated in the 12th iteration, and votes for her were redistributed, that Mr Hawkins went ahead.

Then, in the 13th iteration, Cr Andrew Whiley (with 10,158 votes) dropped out, and a redistribution which might have been expected to favour Cr Vandervis instead went Mr Hawkins' way.

But, despite disappointment in the mayoral race, Cr Vandervis still dominated the fight for council seats.

He secured 7361 votes, making him easily the highest polling councillor, followed by Cr Garey with just over half his support (3822 votes).

Cr Andrew Whiley was in third spot (3250) votes, followed by Cr Jim O'Malley with 3158 votes.

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