Mayor Kouvelis takes the reins

SANDRA CROSBIE
Last updated 15:02 15/03/2012
margaret
SANDRA CROSBIE/FAIRFAX NZ
IN THE OFFICE: Margaret Kouvelis has taken up residence in the mayor's office in the Manawatu District Council building following her swearing in ceremony at today's Council meeting.

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Margaret Kouvelis won the Manawatu District mayoral by-election by just 14 votes last Wednesday and today officially took over the role.

Mrs Kouvelis said it was a privilege to be named mayor.

"I am grateful for the voters' confidence in me, but also mindful of how close the final vote was."

Provisional results released on Wednesday afternoon show Mrs Kouvelis received 3293 votes, with Steve Gibson following close behind on 3279.

There were 9928 voting papers received for the by-election, which represented 46.38 per cent return.

The other candidates vying for the position were Barbara Cameron (2946) and Russell Johnson (379 votes).

As soon as the final count was announced, Mrs Kouvelis was fielding congratulatory calls from around the country, including Ian McKelvie, who vacated the mayoralty after he was elected MP for Rangitikei.

Gracious and humbled by her win, Mrs Kouvelis praised the support of others who had helped her with her campaign.

Fellow councillor John Salmon was her campaign manager, and it was Cr Tony Jensen who first approached her to run for the position.

But on hearing her praise for their work, her supporters said it was Mrs Kouvelis who did all the hard work.

"I feel great," said Mrs Kouvelis.

"I am delighted to serve the people of our district as we are fortunate to live in a very special district."

Mrs Kouvelis ran her campaign on celebrating the success of the district and the people.

"This district is full of many silent heroes and heroines who volunteer for many causes.

"We have to build on what we have got here and carry on the great work our previous mayor did.

"I feel confident with the support of the council and Lorraine Vincent and her team.

"Our council is run by people of a high calibre who have an amazing vision and tremendous ability to face the changing political realities."

Mrs Kouvelis plans to take up residence in the mayoral office after she is sworn in at the first council meeting today. "I want to meet the needs of the people first, listen, and very much be in touch with people.

"I want to be out and about and am happy to receive invitations to any local activities and events."

She will still "dabble" in her Feilding bookshop – Poppies.

"I have absolute confidence in my staff, Tania and Raewyn. They have been outstanding and very supportive to me."

Her biggest praise is for her husband, Brian: "We make a great team and he has been totally supportive of me. He has great knowledge and is interested in what I do.

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"He is also a very calming influence on me."

Close runner-up Steven Gibson offered a press release soon after the announcement of the final result in the by-election.

He said he was honoured by the amount of support he received and he was looking forward to working with the new mayor.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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