Hopkins Waitaki deputy mayor

Jim Hopkins – raconteur, columnist, television personality – and now Waitaki District deputy mayor.

Mr Hopkins, on the council for three years, was voted into the role at the Waitaki District Council's inaugural meeting yesterday, receiving six votes out of eight.

He was nominated by Mayor Alex Familton with the support of councillor Peter Garvan, and pitted against long-serving councillor Helen Stead.

"I believe that in the last three years [Mr Hopkins] has demonstrated skills and analytical skills which have supported and moved this council and district forward," Mr Familton said.

"He has a very high attention to detail and has been a person with an interest in the total district.

"I believe he's the person who can move forward and make progress in the district."

Mr Garvan said Mr Hopkins had received the highest number of votes in the past two elections, making him an ideal candidate.

"He's clearly got widespread support" he said. "He has a good command of the English language that you need at ceremonial occasions."

Mr Hopkins would perform the duties of mayor suitably in the absence of Mr Familton, Mr Garvan said.

Mrs Stead was nominated by councillor Gary Young, who said she was born and bred in the district and knew everybody in North Otago.

"And I think it's a plus having both genders at the top of the table."

Councillor Sally Hope agreed, saying Mr Stead was a very able woman.

"She has a wonderful knowledge of the district and I know she'd be very honoured to take on this position and give it everything she possibly could."

Mr Hopkins thanked councillors for the vote of confidence that he would endeavour to compliment.

"I regard this as an opportunity to assist the mayor and assist the district," he said. "There is an air about what we are doing that indicates not only a need for change but an appetite for change."

Mrs Stead pledged her loyalty to Mr Familton and Mr Hopkins.

Six new faces appeared around the council tables yesterday.

Council chief executive Michael Ross said it was the largest change of councillors in the 21 years he had been with the council.

"That represents a significant loss in corporate knowledge and in how we operate," he said.

The council would run an extensive induction programme between now and Christmas, he said.

The Timaru Herald