Mayoral win 'pretty overwhelming' - Hawkins

Dunedin's next mayor Aaron Hawkins says explaining his new job to his three-year-old son has been his first mayoral challenge.

Based on 95% of votes counted, Mr Hawkins has secured 15,060 votes _ putting him 1754 votes ahead of Cr Lee Vandervis, who finished in second place.

Aaron Hawkins, a Green Party candidate and incumbent Dunedin city councillor, had taken his son to a four-year-old's birthday party at Chipmunks when news of his election came through shortly before 3pm today.

"I'm not speechless often, but that was one of those times.

"There was obviously already a lot of hysteria in the room. I tried to tell my son who has no idea what's going on. I tried to explain to him that it's just like the mayor in Paw Patrol.

"I couldn't compete with a pirate face mask unfortunately.''

Despite that, Cr Hawkins said it was "humbling to be given the privilege of leading our next council''.

"It's pretty overwhelming to be given this privilege.

"I was optimistic the city would get a good outcome, without being confident about me winning it.''

New mayor Aaron Hawkins celebrates with his wife Anya Sinclair and son Emile Hawkins (3). Photo:...
New mayor Aaron Hawkins celebrates with his wife Anya Sinclair and son Emile Hawkins (3). Photo: Christine O'Connor

He was still digesting other results - including the election of four new city councillors and the loss of incumbent Damian Newell - but said the new mix around the table appeared to be positive.

"Initially I would say that bodes well for the city continuing in the positive direction that we've been heading in over the last six years, since I've been working here.

"This is a really exciting time for the city but also a very challenging time, and having progressive and capable leadership at the council table is going to be incredibly important in the next few years.''

He was yet to give any thought to appointments - including the role of deputy mayor or committee chairs' roles - or any changes to committee structures.

He would meet with council chief executive Sue Bidrose tomorrow, and councillors through next week, before making any announcements.

Asked how he expected to work with Cr Lee Vandervis - his closest mayoral rival and highest polling councillor - Mr Hawkins said: "I've survived six years so far.''

"He represents a segment of the community and that's fine. We'll continue to agree on some things and disagree on others. But I'm optimistic that we can conduct that in a collegial fashion.''

The Dunedin City Council election results, announced today, also saw Mr Hawkins see off challenges from 12 other candidates, including fellow incumbent councillors Andrew Whiley, in third place with 9409 votes, followed by Christine Garey (6905 votes), Jim O'Malley (5457 votes) and Jules Radich (3991 votes).

The results also showed Cr Vandervis was leading Mr Hawkins (8821 votes to 7874) after the first iteration of voting, before Single Transferable Vote (STV) preferences swung the result in Mr Hawkins' favour.

The result also makes Cr Hawkins one of New Zealand's youngest mayors, at just 35 years of age.

Cr Hawkins stood on a platform of continued progressive development in Dunedin, saying he wanted to focus on initiatives to improve housing, public transport and the natural environment.

The result also meant the city council would have a mayor committed to continuing progress on major initiatives, like waterfront development plans, cycleways and George St's redevelopment.

Cr Vandervis had pledged to cut spending, slash debt and focus more on core infrastructure and greater provision of parking in the city.

That included cutting spending on George St and the tertiary zone upgrade, as well as deferring the $20 million waterfront bridge.

However, his campaign had became mired in controversy, as details of complaints of abusive behaviour towards council staff this term emerged.

Cr Vandervis told the Otago Daily Times he knew the race was always going to be close, but his loss to Green Party candidate Aaron Hawkins was "quite disappointing''.

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'', such as council debt and the new Dunedin Hospital site.

Comments

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Now it's up to the retailers in George St to stop the one-waying of the road...

What a shocker! NOT!! The Sheepeople of Dunedin have spoken and voted for the least qualified individual running. Congratulations! I hope the sheepeople of Dunedin remember their choice each year as the economy continues to stagnate, we get more worthless projects like the bike lane and our rates continue to go. What to go sheepeople! So glad we are moving to Invercargill!

The economy is not stagnated. Least qualified...hardly, he’s been on council for two terms and has been a positive contributor. The rates are the lowest in NZ & the cycle lanes represent an investment in the future. Good luck in Invers...! What did The Rolling Stones call it...

Care to explain how cycle lanes are an investment?....As all I see every day as I try to navigate Dunedin in my courier van, is endless lines of traffic, virtually empty cycle lanes and massively wide concrete separators that act as islands for pedestrians who can't be bothered to use crossings.
The only economic boom is the petrol companies who gleefully watch stagnant traffic wasting petrol and adding to carbon monoxide pollution.

Congratulations to you too WandaW. Enjoy Invercargill.

Great...!!
Combined with the news about traffic congestion worsening, over the demolition of Cadburys, I can now also look forward to more cycle ways and even less parking for Dunedin motorists.
I guess the next thing will be a council tax on the extra pollution motorists put out whilst waiting, bumper to bumper on our city's gridlocked roads.

Great news, Congratulations! The people have spoken! There may be a few who voted for others but they could opt to move out, or get on board. Cheers

Sad day for Dunedin

Wanda; do you have room in your moving van for my stuff? Totally agree with your comments. Only people getting rich in Dunedin are the politicians and the people who rent parking spaces. See you in Invers...nothing going to get better in Dunedin now!

The city dodged a bullet with the Vandervis loss, that's forsure...
Onwards and upwards like the last 9 years.

Brilliant outcome for Dunedin. Congratulations to Aaron Hawkins and his team. Here's to a brighter 'greener' future.

That damned democracy, always getting in the way of the entitled!

What is an economy if it relies upon servicing the needs of corperate interests, interests that have underpinned the 6th Mass Extinction?

I am not sure if many people have realised or grasped this, but perhaps they feel it. I have no idea, as I do not live in Dunedin, what Dawkins offers, however is to potentially represent the needs of the younger generations who will inherit Dunedin.

There are countless ideas that could encourage Dunedin on a path towards being a Greener and more sustainable economy. A city that from a distance appears to have its share of problems with housing, alcohol, violence, un-employment, mental health and central city planning and design.

As for closing down the inner area of cities, well one has to look no further than most European cities where commerce booms as a result of creating a place people love to be in, places and spaces designed for living.

Too many of New Zealands cities lack any consideration for activities outside of of commercial interest. Maybe Hawkins can take a leaf out of some of the more innovative cities books and pave the way towards a city that promotes a cleaner environment and healthier interactions between people?

Mr Hawkins would do well to remember that Mr Vandervis represents nearly half the electorate. Nearly half the people did not vote to have the wrecking ball of greens policies. Dunedin does not need an anti business, anti development council.
So come on greens. Try to not do as you did in Tasmania. Don't try to drive all industry out of town. People need jobs.
And just remember, not everyone wants to or can ride a bike from Brockville to town to do their shopping.

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