Campaign works wonders

VOTING VICTORY: Paul Walden has a cuppa and reflects on his landslide win in the Waiheke Local Board by-election.
VOTING VICTORY: Paul Walden has a cuppa and reflects on his landslide win in the Waiheke Local Board by-election.

"We did it!" A short Facebook posting signalled Paul Walden's victory in the Waiheke Local Board by-election on Friday.

Seven candidates put their names forward for just one place in the contest after MP Denise Roche resigned in February.

Mr Walden received 1154 votes – more than twice the number of the next candidate Sue McCann with 507, followed by Herb Romaniuk with 457 votes.

Mr Walden put himself forward in the 2011 elections but was far down the list at the final count.

He used the experience to master what works and what doesn't.

"Last time we split the vote," he says.

Political heavyweights Sandra Lee, Brian Anderton – brother of Jim – and Ms Roche backed him as the campaign hit the ground running.

Mr Walden used billboards, newspaper advertising, pamphlets and postcards.

He had an organised phone tree and a high-profile "Paul Walden for Waiheke Local Board" page on Facebook.

His canny way of using social media and engaging feedback on an almost daily basis left the other candidates high and dry.

"We also had advice from Jim Anderton's campaign manager, which reaffirmed Sandra Lee's point that we needed to get a campaign leaflet out. From that came the Waiheke Observer.

Brian also organised a PR agency to do the postcards.

"The campaign grew legs and it ended up feeling like a community campaign rather than it being all about me."

Mr Walden celebrated with his supporters at his Sea View Rd home on Friday night.

He'll be sworn in at the next board meeting on May 17.

"I might rock on up on horseback," he says. "There was a hitching rail there when I was a kid."

The father of three owns a building company and is involved with Sea Scouts, Forest and Bird and the riding club.

He will stand down as chairman of the Okahuite/Ostend Residents and Ratepayers Association.

"Being a member of several organisations means a person is engaged and interested in the community but I'm seeking advice on where the conflicts of interest might be as a local board member.

"I'll be there to advocate for youth, family and the environment which is what I campaigned on."

Local board chairwoman Faye Storer congratulates Mr Walden on his election to the board.

"I would also like to thank all the other candidates who put themselves forward to serve our community."

Full results and voting turnout on P2.

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