Wallace topples Ogden for Hutt mayoralty
At 48, Ray Wallace can claim to be the youngest mayor the city has seen but he firmly rejects any suggestion that he could be our last mayor.
On Saturday, he swept aside the challenge from incumbent David Ogden to grab the mayoral chains.
Petone historian Roy Hewson says Mr Wallace is probably the youngest mayor Hutt City and its predecessors has elected.
With the Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide crusading under the amalgamation banner, there are many in the city who believe that a super city is inevitable.
Mr Wallace, however, rejects any such talk as "media hype" and says the regions' mayors need to work closely together to show Mr Hide that amalgamation is not a realistic option.
He firmly believes that if the mayors could show that local authorities were working together, the government would not force amalgamation, as it had done with Auckland.
On Saturday, however, such issues were the last thing on his mind as he enjoyed his victory.
Saturday night was spent at the Wainuiomata RSA where he received a standing ovation and then at the Petone Working Men's Club.
His phone ran hot with people congratulating him and he says victory was very satisfying.
"I was very pleased with the result and very humbled. I worked hard through the campaign and expected it to go down to the wire. With the [large] majority, I was humbled by the faith and confidence shown."
The size of the victory has given him a clear mandate and he says that is also pleasing.
Victory resulted from running a comprehensive campaign and from being well known as a result of his 16 years on the council, he says.
One issue he will have to deal with will be getting councillors to work with him. During the campaign, a number of high profile councillors endorsed Mr Ogden and suggested that councillors would have trouble working with Mr Wallace.
All councillors, he says, swear an oath to work in the best interests of the city and he is not expecting it to be an issue. It is too early to speculate on who will be deputy mayor and he notes that in the Harbour Ward Joy Baird is only ahead by five votes.
NEW MAYORESS JOINS WALLACE
As well as a new mayor, Hutt City has a new mayoress, Linda Goss.
She told the Hutt News she is looking forward to supporting Mr Wallace and says the role will not be dissimilar to her job as i-SITE manager.
"I am passionate about the city. As it is, I do a lot of talks about the services at i-SITE." Although she is a council employee. Mr Wallace does not see it as a problem. He will, however, discuss the issue with council chief executive Tony Stallinger but is confident she will do a good job.
"She was born and bred in the Hutt Valley and I could not ask for a better cheerleader."