New mayor hits ground running
Nelson's new mayor Rachel Reese plans to waste no time in making changes to the way the city council is run.
Ms Reese, who made history on Saturday by becoming the first woman to be elected mayor of Nelson city, plans to take immediate steps to change how council meetings operate, with a return to standing committees.
She said the move would streamline information sources and decision-making processes, making the workings of council more understandable and accessible to the public.
Ms Reese will also be tackling the appointment of a deputy mayor, but she was not giving anything away just yet as to who would fit the bill. The process three years ago turned into a bun fight after Ms Reese, who was the highest-polling councillor and the preferred councillor for the role in a Nelson Mail opinion poll, offered to do the job.
Mr Miccio wanted Ian Barker in the role.
Opposition from within councillor ranks prompted Mr Barker to call his colleagues a "brat pack" for publicly opposing his proposed appointment.
Ms Reese said shortly after the announcement on Saturday she had won the mayoralty by a convincing margin from Aldo Miccio, that she would be working on governance matters over the next week, once she spoke with the new councillors directly.
Ms Reese won 7477 votes, Aldo Miccio 6048, Brian McGurk 3018 and Richard Osmaston 308 votes.
Ms Reese said, while surrounded by close friends and family at a low-key celebration on Saturday, that she was humbled by the result.
"It's huge. It's a real honour to be elected mayor of Nelson. People have put their faith and confidence in it, and it's now my job to live up to that."
Mr Miccio gave credit to Ms Reese for her win.
He said the campaign had been a good battle, and he wished Ms Reese "all the best" for running the city over the next three years. Mr Miccio said he had plenty to get on with and would now have time to consider several business propositions which had emerged in recent months.
"I love Nelson - I'm passionate about this place and I will be here doing what I can.
"It's a win for my family in a way as they have their dad back again."
Mr Miccio said he would never rule out a return to local government, but three years away was a long time.
Ms Reese and Mr Miccio were part of the Hands Up ticket elected to council in 2007, but became rivals in the build-up to the 2010 election when each stood for the mayoralty.
Ms Reese said, in hindsight, losing then was not such a bad thing as it had given her another three years on council, in which time she had gained valuable knowledge.
She complimented Mr Miccio on the strong campaign he had run and thanked him for his contribution to Nelson over the past three years.
"I've had overwhelmingly strong support throughout the campaign from the community and people have been very encouraging, and I have to thank all those people who have put their trust in me.
"I've had a very strong team of people through the campaign, including my partner Richard [Harden] who has done a great job. It's a tough ask of any partner and he's been outstanding," Ms Reese said.
Mr McGurk lost out on the mayoralty by a significant margin, but ended the campaign as the highest polling councillor. He said his and Ms Reese's combined vote outnumbered Mr Miccio by 2 to 1, which gave them a clear mandate, but he conceded there were big hurdles ahead.
His door-knocking campaign had exposed him to thousands of people's concerns, and the campaign trail around the city's footpaths had shown him the realities of crumbling infrastructure.
"Since July I've been introducing myself to people, and got to know concerns first hand, about things like broken footpaths."
He congratulated Ms Reese on her well-run campaign, and he was looking forward to working with her.
St Arnaud farmer Richard Osmaston went into the campaign prepared to "lose his dignity" for a cause he is dedicated to, and despite comments leading up to the election he was not using it as a platform for the cause, he is thrilled with the result.
He said the advent of a resource-based economy - a holistic socio-economic system promulgated by Jacque Fresco of the Venus Project, was now "firmly on the horizon".
"I congratulate Rachel, as she will be a great mayor I'm sure.
"I'm ecstatic at the result. The resource based economy is now firmly on the horizon and neither Rachel nor Richard [Kempthorne] have to worry about debt, and they can spend as much as they like because they're never going to have to pay it back," Mr Osmaston said.
He said a "massive boost" had been given to society's collective awakening through media coverage including the video footage of mayoral candidates prepared by the Nelson Mail, in which Mr Osmaston proved a hit with the biggest audience of more than 1100 views on YouTube.
He said the elected members had a tough job ahead because until they adopted the ways of a resource-based economy, the "new crew has an impossible ship to sail".
- © Fairfax NZ News