Mayor and council sworn in

The new Waitaki District Council lines up after being officially sworn in yesterday. Back row ...
The new Waitaki District Council lines up after being officially sworn in yesterday. Back row (from left) Peter Garvan, Sally Hope, Jim Hopkins, Kathy Dennison, Colin Wollstein. Front row (from left) Melanie Tavendale, William Kingan, Gary Kircher,...

The only new mayor elected in Otago in the recent local body elections officially received the chains of office yesterday.

After gaining 3199 votes in the 2013 triennial local elections on October 12, Gary Kircher was sworn in as Waitaki mayor yesterday at an inauguration ceremony in which elected councillors Peter Garvan, Jim Hopkins, Sally Hope, Hugh Perkins, Melanie Tavendale, Colin Wollstein, Kathy Dennison, William Kingan and Sharyn Price officially took up roles on the council.

Cr Melanie Tavendale (32) was the youngest councillor elected to the Waitaki District Council, which this year saw the number of female councillors increase from three to four.

The election of Cr Tavendale, along with Crs Sally Hope, Kathy Dennison and Sharyn Price, means that for the first time since 1998, 40% of sitting councillors are female.

Because no candidate was fielded for the Ahuriri Ward this year, fully half the council will be female if a woman is returned in the Ahuriri by-election on February 11.

Cr Hope said the number of women elected was a reflection of what the voters wanted.

''It's really good that we have a younger person and another woman, but there is a good skill base around the table, and even though we have only been together from this morning, the group has a really good feel about it.''

Mayor Gary Kircher said he was ''excited'' by the depth of talent around the council table and he looked forward to three years of progress over the coming term.

Following the ceremony, Cr Perkins was elected unanimously to the post of deputy mayor at the inaugural meeting of the new council.

Cr Perkins replaces former deputy mayor and defeated mayoral candidate Cr Jim Hopkins, who had been deputy to former mayor Alex Familton for the past three years.

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