Provisional results from Saturday’s local body election showed Queenstown businessman Jim Boult had won the mayoralty with 5531 votes, more than 3000 ahead of nearest rival, former deputy mayor Wanaka councillor Lyal Cocks, who had served on the council for the past 12 years.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Cocks said he was “obviously disappointed” with the result but at the same time was “very proud of the significant contribution” he had made to the district as an elected member.
“I wish the new council all the best,” he said.
He would continue to live in Wanaka and be involved in the community.
“I am very proud of the district and what we have achieved. It is one of the best [districts] to live in.”
Traditionally, the deputy mayor’s position has been awarded to the Wanaka ward candidate with the highest number of votes.
However, following the 2013 election, then mayor Vanessa Van Uden decided against making Wanaka’s high-polling Calum MacLeod her deputy and instead appointed Mr Cocks, due to his experience as a councillor.
Mr MacLeod was the highest-polling Wanaka ward candidate again this year, receiving 3110 votes, ahead of Ella Lawton on 2459.
Mr Boult told The News this week he was “yet to make any decisions on deputy mayor” and that he would be consulting his councillors before making the call.
He also said he would not be opening a designated mayoral office in Wanaka.
“QLDC has offices in Wanaka and I will utilise those as necessary,” he said.
He was “delighted” with the mix of councillors elected.
The Queenstown ward had a 50-50 gender balance and councillors had a “diverse and interesting mix of experience and backgrounds”, while Arrowtown had elected returning councillors with a good track record.
In Wanaka two experienced and proactive councillors (Calum MacLeod and Ella Lawton) had been joined by a new member (Ross McRobie) who had community board experience.
“I think I will be fortunate in leading a positive and engaged council,” Mr Boult said.
His campaign had been based on issues “that matter” to the district’s communities, especially developing a long-term vision for the area, addressing transport and traffic issues, water quality and the cost of housing for permanent residents.
The first priority would be to meet the new council on Tuesday and to map out a process to “deal with the issues”.
“High on my list of deliverables also will be engagement with central government over a tourism levy,” he said.
Mayoral candidate Queenstown film-maker Roger Tompkins, who finished third with 954 votes, said he was pleased with his result.
“It was a great stand by a complete unknown, a dark horse,” he said.
He had already decided to stand for the mayoralty in 2019.
He said he believed smaller communities, such as Kingston and Glenorchy, felt a sense of disbandment from the past council. He also wanted to see a “groundswell” of younger voters garnering an interest in local government.
Fellow mayoral candidate Al Angus, of Glenorchy, said while he “absolutely” pleased with his support (654 votes), he was “worried” about Saturday’s result and concerned about what he saw as a low voter turnout, saying that 15,000 to 16,000 people not bothering to vote was “bloody marginal”.
Mayoral candidate John Mann did not respond to questions in time for The News deadline.
PROVISIONAL ELECTION RESULTS
QLDC and Wanaka Community Board
Council :Queenstown-Wakatipu ward: Tony Hill, Alexa Forbes, Valerie Miller, Craig Ferguson, Penny Clark, John MacDonald
Arrowtown ward: Scott Stevens
Wanaka ward: Calum MacLeod, Ella Lawton, Ross McRobie