Susan O’Regan has beaten incumbent Jim Mylchreest to be the new Waipā mayor.
The 50-year-old Kakepuku farmer becomes the district’s first female mayor and only the fifth since the district’s establishment in 1989.
It was Mylchreest who was the first to ring and congratulate her today (Saturday) just after 1.40pm, 10 minutes after chief executive Garry Dyet had told O’Regan she was the winner. He is the first Waipā mayor ever ousted.
The margin was 1149 votes – a very clear mandate – with rookie Chris Woodhams well back in third and Bernard Westerbaan fourth.
“There was a sense of change out there.”
“There was a sense of change out there,” said O’Regan.
“People wanted a bit of change and at the same time wanted stability and experience. I’ve got a proven record; they could see how I voted in the past.”
She will need to hit the ground running – lunchtime appointment tomorrow in Cambridge for the Health and Community Centre open day and a meeting in Te Awamutu on Monday to discuss the induction programme for councillors.
“It’s a very stable bunch. They understand the district and some of the headwinds we’ve got coming.”
Working out which committees councillors should go on and selecting chairs is at the top of the agenda too.
“It’s pretty obvious with some,” she said, a reference to Andrew Brown, who chaired the finance committee and deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk.
O’Regan went to Waikato Diocesan School for Girls where Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta was a year ahead of her.
But that will not get O’Regan any favours, she surmises.
Throughout her two terms in office, O’Regan has often talked about applying her lawyer’s mind to things.
She was a practising barrister in Te Awamutu before she was elected to the council in 2016.
“I’m quite big on process and a lot of people will know that.
“The process has delivered a result and I’ve come out on top, and I’m really flattered.”
She and husband John Hayward are award-winning dairy farmers and have five children between them – Emily, George, Ben, Lily and Jack.
O’Regan was eight, the same age as Jack, when her mother Katherine O’Regan was elected to the Waipā County Council, the first woman ever – and was 12 when she was elected as MP for Waipā in 1984.
So how will the family get on with their mother’s extra duties in the council?
“They know nothing more than that. I’ve always been a working mum much like most families around the district. I’m no different to anyone else in that respect.
“Most mums have value beyond cooking and cleaning and working out which days are shared lunch. This is just a testament to the fact your kids can understand that and celebrate with you when you actually celebrate something outside the home,” she said.
“I’m just really honoured to be somebody the district has backed and decided can deliver for them.”
Voter turnout was up on three years ago – from 35.62 per cent to 36.24 percent.
The only surprise elsewhere in the Waipā came in the Māori ward where Kihikihi lawyer Takena Stirling secured 253 votes to beat veterans Gaylene Roberts and Bill Harris.
Elsewhere it is a return to the tried and tested. Liz Stolwyk, already an early favourite for the deputy mayoralty, topped the poll in Cambridge ahead of Mike Pettit, Roger Gordon and Philip Coles.
Te Awamutu returns Andrew Brown, Lou Brown and Marcus Gower while the new Pirongia-Kakepuku ward has familiar faces in Clare St Pierre and Bruce Thomas.
Mike Montgomerie steps out of the Cambridge Community Board and into the Maungatautari ward.
Expect some fireworks on the Te Awamutu-Kihikihi Community Board where Ange Holt topped the poll and welcomes back Jill Taylor and Kane Titchener. Sally Whitaker and Norris Hall complete the board.
No surprises on the Cambridge Community Board with the four incumbents all returning – Jo Davies-Colley, Alana MacKay, Sue Milner and Elise Badger. Andrew Myers will join the board as the successful Maungatautari representative.
The progress results are based upon the counting of approximately 90 percent of returned votes. These results do not include some special votes and votes returned on the day elections closed.
Progress results are:
Susan O’Regan – 5,541
James (Jim) Mylchreest – 4,092
Chris Woodhams – 2,530
Bernard Westerbaan – 540
Cambridge Ward (4 vacancies)
Liz Stolwyk – 3,468
Mike Pettit – 3,451
Roger Gordon – 3,294
Philip Coles – 2,771
Don Sanders – 2,162
Delwyn Smith – 1,479
Te Awamutu Ward (3 vacancies)
Andrew Brown – 2,158
Lou Brown – 2,115
Marcus Gower – 2,065
Bernard Westerbaan – 1,163
Bernie Fynn – 615
James Parlane – 443
Pirongia – Kakepuku Ward (2 vacancies)
Clare St Pierre – 1,716
Bruce Thomas – 1,446
Corilin Steel – 889
Maungatautari Ward (1 vacancy)
Mike Montgomerie – 700
Les Bennett – 407
Māori Ward (1 vacancy)
Takena Stirling – 253
Gaylene Roberts – 133
Bill Harris – 59
Cambridge Community Board, votes received (4 vacancies)
Jo Davies-Colley – 2,705
Alana MacKay – 2,630
Sue Milner – 2,201
Elise Badger – 1,844
David Slone – 1,811
Krystie Brickland – 1,620
Cherie Weinberg – 1,318
Delwyn Smith – 1,302
Micah Webb – 1,123
Selina Oliver – 1,095
Te Awamutu – Kihikihi Community Board (4 vacancies)
Ange Holt – 2,138
Jill Taylor – 1,904
Sally Whitaker – 1,525
Norris Hall – 1,469
John Wood – 1,441
Georgina Christie – 1,333
Bernard Westerbaan – 1,313
James Parlane – 541
Maungatautari Community Board (1 vacancy)
Andrew Myers – 477
Les Bennett – 369
Ruth Nicholls – 279
Kakepuku representative for Te Awamutu Community Board, votes received – ELECTED UNOPPOSED
Waipā District Council closed the elections today with 36.24 percent of votes returned. Preliminary results will be announced later this evening or tomorrow after the last ordinary voting papers have been received and processed, results could change.
The official election results will be released by Thursday 13 October, once all the ordinary and special votes have been counted, and these results are final.