Former Rangitikei mayor 'riding into sunset'

Rangitikei's choice: Andy Watson is the new mayor of Rangitikei.
Rangitikei's choice: Andy Watson is the new mayor of Rangitikei.

Andy Watson thought of his late mother when he heard he was the new mayor of Rangitikei.

He claimed the Rangitikei mayoralty this afternoon, tipping over incumbent Chalky Leary by 474 votes.

The Marton man won 1847 votes in the progress results while Leary received 1373.

Into the sunset: Incumbent Chalky Leary was voted out.
Into the sunset: Incumbent Chalky Leary was voted out.

The council table received a clean out too with six new councillors joining the new mayor.

Watson said his first thought was with his mother who died during the election campaign.

''She would have got a huge buzz out of it so the immediate thoughts were with her,'' he said.

The district has had it share of controversy in the last term with district wide-rating being introduced along with increasing rates and debt and a number of issues sparking petitions.

''I think the district was wanting some change, they wanted some business structure around how we do things,'' Watson said.

Watson, a former deputy mayor, said it was sad to see some of his colleagues go but was looking forward to the chance for a start fresh.

''There are some people who have served the district for a long time,'' he said.

''But it's exciting times.''

The defeated Chalky Leary who held the chains for two terms said he was disappointed not to be re-elected.

''My strength was in the North and when two (others) stood in the North I thought 'oh dear','' the Hunterville man said.

Leary said he was surprised by the volume of change around the council table.

''It's a big change to the council which I find hard to believe because I thought we did a good job for the last three years,'' he said.

''The new council at least will have a good starting point, we're financially very secure.

''I'm sort of riding off into the sunset thinking I've got no regrets.''

The six new faces on council are Angus Gordon and Ruth Rainey in Taihape, Rebecca McNeil and Tim Harris in Bulls and Nigel Belsham and Cath Ash in Marton.

Richard Aslett, Lynne Sheridan, Mike Jones retained their seats while Soraya Peke-Mason and Dean McMannaway got on unopposed.

As Watson also polled second in the Marton Ward race the district's biggest town will have another representative this term.

The remaining mayoral candidates Maree Brannigan and Richard Aslett received 632 and 547 votes respectively.

Voter return was 45 per cent, slightly up on 2010 when 42 per cent voted, though there was no mayoral race then.

Manawatu Standard