New Mayor for Gore District
New Zealand’s youngest mayor is also the Gore District’s new mayor.
Twenty-three-year-old tech entrepreneur Ben Bell was declared elected as Gore District Mayor today with 2,371 votes to incumbent Tracy Hicks’ 2,363 after special votes were counted.
There will be five new faces when the Council meets next. Apart from Mr Bell, two of his Team Hokonui running mates – Joe Stringer and Robert (Caveman) McKenzie elected – as well as Keith Hovell and Paul McPhail.
There are six sitting councillors returning to office – Bret Highsted, Glenys Dickson, Bronwyn Reid and Richard McPhail, who faced the ballot box, and John Gardyne, Stewart MacDonnell and Neville Phillips, who were returned unopposed.
Mr Bell said he was extremely humbled to be elected Gore District Mayor
“I am thankful to those who made the time and effort to get to know myself and my team throughout our campaign.
“I am especially grateful to everyone who voted for me”.
Bell also thanked his fellow candidates from Team Hokonui for all their hard work.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without each of them. There have been many long days and hard work provided by the team.”
Mr Bell said the late Mary Ogg, a former Gore District Mayor, had a profound impact on him
during the campaign. Mary and her husband David had been with him each Sunday to give advice and support.
In thanking those who voted for him, Mr Bell said the past few days had been loaded with anticipation.
Mr Bell said he was looking forward to getting to know his councillors and learning their priorities.
"As I said on the campaign trail, I want the community to have a clear voice and for us as a Council to get back to basics, those being recycling, rural roads and infrastructure.
“We have a plan for the first 100 days in office.”
Mr Bell said he believed the length of time the incumbent Tracy Hicks had served was what persuaded the votes in the end.
“I wish Mr Hicks all the best going forward. Eighteen years is a great legacy to be remembered for.”
Former Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks today thanked everyone who had supported him during his 18 years in office.
“I particularly want to thank those who have supported me in the past year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.”
Mr Hicks wished incoming mayor Ben Bell all the very best for the future – “he has a fantastic community to work with”.
Mr Hicks said he would seek advice before deciding whether to ask for a recount.