Bell rings for new Gore District Mayor
Gore District mayor-elect Ben Bell today welcomed the decision by a District Court Judge to decline an application for a mayoral vote recount.
The recount had been sought by Tracy Hicks, who lost the mayoralty in October’s election by eight votes to Team Hokonui candidate Ben Bell.
At 23 years of age, Bell becomes New Zealand’s youngest ever local body mayor.
Judge J D Kelly dismissed the submission for a recount on the grounds Mr Hicks did not provide enough satisfactory evidence.
Mr Bell said he was glad due process had been followed and “we can finally put this to bed”.
He acknowledged Mr Hicks’ service to the community.
“Mr Hicks proudly served the Gore community for six terms and therefore deserves our collective thanks.
“I think he can be proud of his length of service and what he has contributed to the Gore District.”
In his findings, Judge Kelly said he agreed that at best, Mr Hicks’ belief as to the impact of the informal, special and blank votes amount to supposition.
“Even if the informal vote and four excluded special votes were in Mr Hicks’ favour, there would still need to be four other votes in his favour to secure majority,” the judge says.
Mr Bell said the time had come to look forward and for him to get on with the job as the Gore District’s newest and youngest mayor.
“I am committed to getting on with the role I was elected to do. This means actively putting our community’s views forward on Three Waters and, more importantly, working as a united council to get back to basics.”
“Once again, I would like to thank my supporters and the community as a whole. Regardless of how people voted I hope to do you proud.”
Mr Bell said he was eager to meet staff to get to know them and to get briefings underway for the incoming councillors.
He was looking forward to next week’s statutory meeting to swear in all successful candidates from October’s election.
“It will be great to swear in my fellow councillors. I feel we have waited long enough and I’m sure the community is eager for us to get started.”
The statutory meeting will be held on Wednesday 9 November, at 4:00pm.
It has been almost a month since the election.
As mayor-elect, Mr Bell will have a few official duties before being sworn in.
The first is to attend Mercury’s first sod turning for its Kaiwera Downs wind farm tomorrow (3 November).
Mr Bell said he was looking forward to attending the launch of a project that will have a significant impact on the District and on New Zealand’s renewable energy resources.
On Friday, he will officially open the Gore District Community Awards and present the Civic Award.
“I am excited to be attending the community awards and to celebrate the great individuals we have in our community. I feel extremely privileged to be able to make a short speech as mayor-elect”.
Mr Bell said he was looking forward to the new Council’s first meeting for this triennium in late November.
“In the meantime, I already have a diary filling up with community meetings. I am thrilled to be able to start as I mean to go on by connecting with my community.”
Mr Bell said he intends to operate an open-door policy.
“As I’ve already shown, I’m a keen student of the wisdom we have among our older community members”.