Optimistic and ready to go
Nelson voters have installed a mix of fresh faces and old hands in the new Nelson City Council, with eight sitting representatives, including the new mayor returning to the table, and five newcomers to be inducted.
The exit of three councillors leading up to the election created three vacancies, with the remaining two places filled by the exit of Aldo Miccio and long-serving councillor Derek Shaw.
Former police area commander Brian McGurk, former Leader journalist Matt Lawrey, community stalwart, Rotarian and former real estate agent Gaile Noonan, lawyer Luke Acland and photographer Tim Skinner have joined the ranks of city governance.
Pete Rainey, Kate Fulton, Paul Matheson, Ian Barker, Mike Ward, Ruth Copeland and Eric Davy are the returning councillors.
Rachel Reese who now heads the governance crew, plans to move quickly to pull a team together to tackle some challenging issues facing the council. First up is the planned sale of Wakatu Square which was deferred until after the election.
Councillor Pete Rainey, who said before the election that if successful he would consider his options depending on the make up of who else was there, said yesterday that he was pleased with the outcome and it had the potential to be a strong council.
Mr Rainey, a staunch Miccio supporter, moved up from fourth to third in the rankings this year but with marginally fewer votes [6726 compared with 6850 in 2010].
He and Ms Reese have clashed in the past on several occasion, but he said yesterday that it was about time Nelson had a woman mayor. He was disappointed that more of the women who stood for council had not been elected.
Mr Rainey said he was optimistic about the way ahead, and hoped they could now just get on with the job.
"You can set long-term goals in council, but I don't doubt there are big challenges ahead."
Mr McGurk, who was 755 votes ahead of his nearest rival, Mr Lawrey, has been doing enough homework to agree on the scale of challenges ahead.
"There are a number of issues we have to tackle first up, such as Wakatu Square sale, Trafalgar Centre [earthquake strengthening issues] and the local alcohol policy. Early in the new year there'll be work on the Long Term Plan and then there's the woodburner issue," Mr McGurk said.
Mr Lawrey, the second-highest polling candidate, said he was stunned and "blown away" by the result.
"To be honest, I would not have left the Leader if I didn't think I had a good shot.
"I was optimistic I might come out mid way on the table, but I was stunned and thrilled at the result, and I'm grateful," Mr Lawrey said.
"I love Nelson," he said afterwards.
Some might say it was the result of his profile in the community through his years in broadcast and print media, but there were others with equal profile who were not successful, he said.
"The fact I was independent helped. I think also people liked the work I did with the Leader and in radio, and they liked my campaign, but I know politics is a tricky business and you never know how things will work out in the end," Mr Lawrey said.
City council chief executive Clare Hadley said she was looking forward to working with the new mayor and councillors.
"I will be working closely with them and will focus on continuing to deliver services that meet the expectations of Nelsonians," she said.
Mrs Hadley was yet to speak with Ms Reese, but an inaugural meeting was likely to be held late this month for the ceremonial swearing in of councillors.
"I expect we will be having those discussions during this week," Mrs Hadley said.
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