Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

Continuity at the council table

Continuity at the council table
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown.

Neil Brown is back in the big chair and straight back down to business.
Brown won the Ashburton mayoralty race by a whopping 8521 votes from his only opponent Jeff Swindley, to be back at the helm and “straight back into it”.
With four councillors retiring at the end of the term, Brown said there was always going to be at least four new faces at the table.
With all of the incumbents being re-elected, Brown said it was a sign of confidence from the community in the council’s direction.
It also means there is continuity at the table.
“There is no need to stall, so we can just keep progressing at the rate we have been going for the betterment of the whole community,” Brown said.
Of the four new councillors, one already has two terms under his belt.
Russell Ellis infamously was unable to stand in the last election after a technical error on his nomination form, and is “absolutely rapt” to be back on the council.
“I was really passionate about this role, so there was some big disappointment in 2019,” he said.
He said he had unfinished business that he missed out on being a part of over the last three years, but can’t wait to get back into what will be his full-time employment.
“They do things a bit differently now than they did three years ago, but I don’t have to find my feet as much,” Ellis said.
Ellis was the fifth highest polling candidate in the Ashburton ward, but had an over 900 vote margin on fellow former councillor Thelma Bell.
Carolyn Cameron finished on top in the Ashburton ward to ensure a second term, with fellow incumbent Leen Braam polling third.
Tony Todd, at 75 years old, and Phill Hooper are the new councillors in the Ashburton ward.
The incumbents in the Western Ward, Liz McMillan and Rodger Letham were comfortably re-elected, with Dame Lynda Topp missing out.
Topp said she was always a long shot to be “the first lesbian on the Ashburton council” and the people had spoken but she wasn’t too worried about the result, and it’s unlikely it’s the last the council will hear of Topp.
“You can do just as much from the outside as you can from the inside,” Topp said.
Out in the Eastern Ward, Lynette Lovett is back for a third term, with newly elected councillor Richard Wilson, who takes the place vacated by his retired four-term councillor father, Stuart Wilson.
Wilson said while he is his father’s son, he is not his father.
“I am my own person with my own set of skills and experiences,” he said.
Wilson is looking forward to taking on the challenges facing the district, and while he will need to learn the ropes he “isn’t going to shy away from making my voice heard”.
The new Ashburton District Council will be sworn in on October 27.

  • By Jonathan Leask