Voters favour politicians
Former Member of Parliament only new face for Te Awamutu Ward
By Grant Johnston
Te Awamutu voters had their widest choice for many years in this year’s election which closed on Saturday. But the only new face at the Council table representing Te Awamutu Ward will be Michael Cox, the former local Chamber of Commerce executive officer who was a National Party MP in an earlier political life.
The former merchant navy seaman and accountant was MP for Manawatu from 1978 to 1987 and served as opposition finance spokesman and chaired the defence and Commerce Select Committees. It was in Parliament he met his wife, former Waipa MP Katherine O’Regan.
Mrs O’Regan says her husband’s involvement in local body politics is a ‘family tradition’. She served as a Waipa County Councillor for Tuhikaramea Riding from 1977 until 1984, followed by her late husband Neil from 1984 until 1988.
Councillors Hazel Barnes and Graham Jull were returned to office, along with George Simmons - a councillor from 2001-2004 who was narrowly tipped out three years ago.
Hazel Barnes, who has earned a reputation as a ‘doer’, had a massive 2414 votes, with fellow incumbent Graham Jull also polling highly with 1563.
George Simmons was next with 1439, followed by Michael Cox with 1406. Ken Hagan and Marcus Gower mounted the next best challenges, with 1281 and 1238 votes respectively, followed by Ngaire Hall (1037), Anthony Campbell (1023), Brett Watson (744) and James Parlane (669).
While Te Awamutu seats increased from three to four, Kakepuku Ward representation was reduced from two to one.
Long term representative Alan Empson was not standing for re-election, but the other incumbent Gaidyn Flay (245 votes) lost his seat to farmer-conservationist Laurie Hoverd (399 votes).
In Maungatautari Ward, Cambridge political stalwart Ron Cooper was the one to miss out when two seats became one also, with Grahame Webber re-elected 338 votes to 315.
Errol Newlands, a councillor for Te Awamutu last term, was the only ‘newcomer’ elected in Cambridge Ward (increasing to four seats) with Peter Lee, Joe Scaramuzza and Barbara Taranaki re-elected.
Editor’s note: Although 99.95% of votes have been counted, there are still a few special votes to be added. Returning officer John Mills was not expecting to be able to officially declare a result until the end of this week at the earliest.