Local Elections 2013
She has been given a second term and now Celia Wade-Brown says it is time for action.
And with six new faces and a firm Green presence on the Wellington City Council, all eyes are on the cycling mayor to take a strong leadership position after a campaign period dominated by talk of leadership and economic rejuvenation.
Yesterday, Ms Wade-Brown outlined plans for the first 100 days of her mayoralty, including setting priorities for the triennium and getting the draft annual plan done by Christmas.
Her first term had focused on setting the vision and this term was about execution, she said.
"It's definitely time for action."
Unlike three years ago, when the result was in limbo for several days until special votes were counted and she had a majority of 176, this time Ms Wade-Brown came in 2284 votes ahead of rival John Morrison.
She heard the result from council chief executive Kevin Lavery after a nervous wait at her campaign offices, where about 30 supporters had gathered amid an abundance of orange balloons and decorations - including plants the nervous mayor began dead-heading while awaiting the news.
After the call she let out a triumphant "yahoo" before delivering her victory speech.
Across town at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, Mr Morrison learned he had lost while surrounded by about 50 supporters.
After the call he simply said "sorry guys, no go".
He went to ground yesterday but on Saturday night conceded his career in local politics was probably over. "That's just the way things go. Now I'm going to have a drink."
Ms Wade-Brown's victory comes as the Green Party - which she used to belong to - celebrates in Wellington, after all five of its candidates were elected.
That includes new faces Sarah Free and David Lee on the city council, who both unseated incumbents, and Sue Kedgley for the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson said the Green shift should make it easier for Ms Wade-Brown to lead her team after having a more divided council for the past three years.
"She wakes up in a stronger position today than she did yesterday."
The first priority had to be getting a coherent plan together and uniting the council to implement it, he said.
Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Raewyn Bleakley said the onus was on Ms Wade-Brown to unite the councillors and deliver on promises made during the campaign - particularly around economic growth and the airport expansion.
Strong leadership was a priority, Ms Bleakley said.
"We will be looking for the council to do better in terms of engaging with national government and leadership."
Ms Wade-Brown said, regardless of the Green swing, it was a constructive council with a good mix of experience but she conceded leading the council would be "a lot easier than in the last six months".
The main priorities for the next 100 days were the south coast cycle lanes, completing the draft annual plan before Christmas, agreeing on three-year priorities, taking first steps towards a living wage for council staff, slimming down council-owned companies and continuing to improve shared services with other councils.
Being a second-term mayor with a new chief executive put the council in a good position to act, she said.
In the next few weeks, the immediate task was deciding on portfolios for councillors, setting a committee structure and appointing a deputy mayor.
She would not say who she had approached to be deputy but said initial discussions had occurred.
The new council will be sworn in on October 30.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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