Marlborough elects former mayor Gerald Hope to council

Councillor and former mayor Gerald Hope has been voted in to represent Marlborough's Wairau-Awatere Ward.
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Councillor and former mayor Gerald Hope has been voted in to represent Marlborough's Wairau-Awatere Ward.

A well-known figure in Marlborough politics is back on the council, after a six-year absence. 

Former Marlborough mayor Gerald Hope has been elected back to council, in the rural Wairau-Awatere Ward.

With provisional results putting him only 58 votes of his closest rival, he had his "fingers crossed" it would not change, he said. 

Former MP Colin King also ran in the ward and received 1021 votes to Hope's 1079. 

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With special votes yet to be counted, final results will not be known until Wednesday. 

However, King said he did not expect the ward's results to change. King also unsuccessfully entered the mayoral race, won by Blenheim lawyer John Leggett. 

Hope said he never took elections for granted, and he wanted to thank all the people who had supported him. 

He kept to clear policies without embellishing what he could do, and people responded well to that, Hope said.  

Hope said he thought there would have to be a review of the Marlborough District Council election campaign this year, to pinpoint when things went "sour". 

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In the wake of a secretly recorded council discussion being leaked to Whale Oil, it was time to rebuild the council's culture, he said. 

"There's no type on council for this type of activity."

Hope, chairman of the Marlborough Research Centre, last sat on the council in 2010. He was Marlborough's mayor from 1998 to 2001.

He was "absolutely" keen to get back around the council table.

Preliminary workshops needed to be held with each councillor to figure out what their priorities were, he said. 

Hope was elected along with sitting councillors, farmer Geoff Evans and Cynthia Brooks. 

Brooks, who polled the highest in the ward, said she was "really excited" about being back on council and it was time for a fresh start. 

She did not think the matter of the leak would ever be resolved, but said it had brought the councillors together. 

The results of an inquiry, released on Thursday, were inconclusive as to who was responsible for the recording and leak. 

The council said in a statement no further inquiry would be carried out unless further information came to light. 

"There's something about that that makes you tighten up and resist such nonsense and methodology in local government," Brooks said. 

Between the three of them, Evans, Hope and Brooks represented the diversity of the ward well, she said. 

In the Marlborough Sounds Ward, sitting councillors David Oddie and Trevor Hook were re-elected, along with newcomer Nadine Taylor. 

Taylor received the highest number of votes, beating her closest rival by nearly 300 votes. 

Taylor said she was "thrilled" top be elected to council and lucky to be working with two sitting councillors. 

The first part would be getting to know who else was on the team, she said. 

She had good support from the community during the campaign and her family had returned for the weekend to help her celebrate. 

One of the most positive things to come out of public meetings during the campaign had been meeting people from the Outer Sounds community, and she was looking forward to working with Marlborough's far-flung communities. 

 - The Marlborough Express

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