OPINION: Julie Hardaker has pulled off a rare feat when one considers the past two decades of Hamilton local body history. She is the first mayor to be returned to office since Margaret Evans won a third term in office in 1995.
Ms Hardaker should be congratulated on her effort in fending off a spirited challenge from Ewan Wilson who ran a strong campaign but was always slightly behind. He may also have suffered from a late push from opponents to highlight his historic fraud conviction.
The second term will be a test for the mayor who has acknowledged her first term was principally about solidifying the city's fiscal position.
She did a fine job of leading this consolidation but now she needs to take things a step further by showing a strong vision for the city.
Making something more from the Waikato River would be a good place to start. Many residents will look forward to reports and talkfests developing into some tangible action. There was enough controversy during the campaign about the prospect of water meters being introduced to suggest Ms Hardaker will need to manage this issue carefully.
There was relatively little V8-related blood-letting evident in the voting for city council seats. Only four-term east ward councillor Roger Hennebry was a casualty as all other incumbents standing again were returned.
New faces around the council table are former City Vision councillor, 1998-2001, Garry Mallett who brings a colleague from his new ticket, New Council - New Direction, Karina Green, while finance company boss Andrew King also preaches fiscal responsibility.
Meanwhile, accountant Rob Pascoe, former traffic cop boss Leo Tooman and the first Chinese candidate ever to be elected, Philip Yeung, were popular choices with voters.
The Waikato Regional Council is shaping up interestingly with the election of three former mayors - Bob Simcock, Alan Livingston and Hugh Vercoe - and the retention of old hands Paula Southgate and Lois Livingston giving it a look of experience.
Chairman Peter Buckley has signalled he is happy to give up the top job, and all three former mayors and Southgate could vie for it. There was little mood for change around the greater Waikato and no sitting mayors were toppled.
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