Phil Goff elected new Auckland mayor
Auckland has chosen its new leader and it is once again a candidate from the left.
Long-serving Labour MP Phil Goff has been elected, Auckland Council announced on Saturday afternoon.
Goff won as expected in a landslide, receiving almost 50 per cent of votes counted to date, with 179,206.
His nearest rival, right-leaning Vic Crone, gathered 105,413 votes.
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The youngest mayoral candidate, Chloe Swarbrick, came a respectable third with 26,474 votes.
John Palino received 21,398, Mark Thomas 9170 and Penny Bright 6577.
Auckland Council's Governance Director Phil Wilson phoned Goff just after 1.30pm, an hour and a half after the election closed, to advise that he had won the mayoralty, ahead of 18 other candidates.
Goff will now step down as Mt Roskill MP, with a by-election to be held.
His first tasks will be to appoint a deputy mayor and start work on a new budget.
Goff spoke to dozens of rapturous supporters gathered at a Freemans Bay bar.
Goff said the large margin gave him a strong mandate from the Auckland public.
"What Aucklanders expect is not me squabbling with central Government or central Government squabbling with me, but the two of us working together to find a resolution to the problems that are real problems in Auckland."
While his victory was expected Goff said you never knew if you were going to win until the votes were counted.
"I guess while most of the polling suggested I might win this race, there's only one poll that really counts and that's the one where people mark their ballot papers so I was taking nothing for granted."
After acknowledging supporters, friends and family and his mayoral competitors Goff said his first priority was to restore Aucklander's confidence in council.
"Now the real job begins, my first priority as mayor is to work to restore the confidence of the people of Auckland in their council.
"Fifteen per cent trust in our council is a failure, we have to do better than that, we need a council that is more efficient, responsible, transparent and effective."
Auckland faces "huge challenges", Goff said.
Grappling with Auckland homelessness was the first challenge out of Goff's mouth.
"Within a couple of kilometres of the Sky Tower there are 179 Aucklanders sleeping rough on the streets".
Aucklanders are "suffering frustration and loss" from traffic congestion, he also said.
Goff said he could also work with central government to tackle Auckland's challenges but said it was a bigger task than just the mayor's.
"It's not one person who will transform our city into a better place, it's collectively."
In her concession speech Crone said her supporters had felt confident but the result was "a little bit sad for the city".
"I would have loved to see a change for Auckland."
She was not sure what her next steps would be, but her supporters hoped she would stay in politics.
Swarbrick was not surprised by the result but felt "a little bit disappointed that a lot of people are disappointed with the result".
Her experience running for mayor had been invaluable, she said.
"Six months ago I never would have seen myself in politics. I thought I could do more good on the outside, whether that was through journalism, business, or community projects.
"Now seeing how people can very seriously get engaged - I'm keeping my options open.... I'll definitely keep working for Auckland and our society."
Returning officer Dale Ofsoske also confirmed that, with 95 per cent of votes counted, five new ward councillors had been elected to join 15 returning councillors.
Sitting councillors who lost their seats included Calum Penrose who was beaten by Daniel Newman in the Manurewa-Papakura ward and Penny Webster who lost to Greg Sayers in the Rodney ward.
Calum Penrose's loss was unexpected. He was the ruling mayor of Papakura when the super city amalgamation happened. He was then elected to the Manurewa-Papakura ward running on a ticket with well liked former Olympian John Walker.
Newman said he was "delighted" with the result.
"This result, the product of the hard work of many people over the past 12 months, is a win for those who want a contest of ideas and who believe Auckland Council must change," he said.
Newman said he wanted to tackle council spending and a "culture of decision-making behind closed doors".
"We need to close down the old boy's network that preserves elected public office for narrow-thinking politicians year-after-year.
"I hope to use my incumbency to promote more young people, more women, more Maori, Pasifika and Ethnic New Zealanders, and support their promotion to elected public office on merit.
"This is what will be required if we are to restore confidence and greater participation in this council's decision-making processes."
Penrose said he would take time to reflect and spend time with family.
"It's what voters want, it's what they got...you got to enjoy the politics...you're here one day and gone the next.
"One door closes, another opens."
In the North Shore ward, the race for the second council seat was too close to call, with Richard Hills just 71 votes ahead of Grant Gillon. Incumbent Chris Darby was a clear first place with 18,129 votes.
In the Waitemata and Gulf ward standing councillor Mike Lee narrowly retained his seat over challenger Bill Ralston, former head of TVNZ.
Lee said he was pleased to win against such a tough opponent.
"I want to thank the people of Waitemata and Gulf for their continued support and their loyalty.
"I'm going to be working hard for this electorate, for the majority who voted for me and the people who didn't. It's a wonderful ward and it's an honour to serve - I relish the opportunity to work for Waitemata and Gulf for three more years."
Cathy Casey and Christine Fletcher won the two Albert-Eden-Roskill ward seats, while Bill Cashmore was elected unopposed to the Franklin ward.
In Howick the councillors will be Sharon Stewart and Dick Quax, with Alf Filipaina and Fa'anana Efeso Collins elected in Manukau.
Denise Krum won in Maungakiekie-Tamaki, Desley Simpson in Orakei and Greg Sayers in Rodney.
Sayers said he was off to the Puhoi Pub to shout his volunteers a beer after unseating long-time councillor Penny Webster.
Waitakere will be represented by Penny Hulse and Linda Cooper and Ross Clow will speak for the Whau ward.
The results are again disappointing for the centre-right, with National-backed Crone struggling with recognition and cafe owner John Palino again struggling in a failed second bid.
Palino was unaware of the outcome when contacted for comment and was surprised to have finished fourth behind Swarbrick.
But he congratulated the young candidate, who had run a strong campaign.
It was unlikely he would run again for mayor, Palino said.
"I gave it my all, I had good policies...and I expect a lot of the policies will probably be implemented."
When asked if his perceived links to the Len Brown sex scandal had made campaigning difficult for him, Palino said it was the media rather than the public that were obsessed with that subject.
Full election results are available here.
A preliminary election result, including district health board results, will be published on Sunday.
The official result after special votes are counted will be released on 13 October.