Hawkins extends winning margin

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

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 on Sunday gave Mr Hawkins 16,492 votes to Cr Vandervis' 14,097 votes, meaning the new mayor's margin of victory extended to 2395 votes.

The updated results also saw the only incumbent councillor to be voted out, Damian Newell, claw his way closer to the council table.

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 missed out in 15th place, followed by Mr Newell in 16th.

But today's results saw Mr Newell leapfrog Mr Lund into 15th place, although the margin between him and Cr Lord stretched out slightly, to 181 votes.

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.

The figures also showed 42,622 votes had been returned in the Dunedin City Council election, representing a turnout of 45.60%.

That was a slight improvement on the last election, in 2016, when turnout reached 45.17%.

Earlier, the release of detailed voting data showed Cr Vandervis was leading the race to become Dunedin's next mayor for much of the vote counting process.

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 after each iteration of the counting process - as candidates dropped out one by one and voters' preferences were recalculated - showed Cr Vandervis led for much of the race.

It was only when Cr Christine Garey (with 7417 votes) was eliminated in the 12th iteration, and votes for her were redistributed to subsequent preferences, that Mr Hawkins went ahead.

That was perhaps not surprising, given both Cr Garey and Mr Hawkins had been endorsed as progressive potential leaders for the city by outgoing mayor Dave Cull.

A bigger surprise came in the 13th iteration, when Cr Andrew Whiley (with 10,158 votes) dropped out.

The redistribution of Cr Whiley's votes which followed might have been expected to favour Cr Vandervis, but instead went Mr Hawkins' way, helping him secure the mayoralty.

Earlier, Malcolm Moncrief-Spittle had become the first candidate eliminated from the mayoral contest, in the first iteration of the count, having secured just 242 votes.

And, despite disappointment in the mayoral race for Cr Vandervis, he still managed to dominate the contest for council seats.

Cr Vandervis secured 7361 votes to secure a council seat, making him easily the highest polling councillor, followed by Cr Garey with just over half the 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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