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Connelly details set of priorities

South Wairarapa Mayor Martin Connelly. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Martin Connelly has come out on top in South Wairarapa, and with 1703 votes, he has been elected the district’s new mayor.

Connelly, who is representing the council for his first term, has his priorities set.

He wants the new council to focus on improving rural roading, and infrastructure for town planning.

“We desperately need to start doing much better with our rural roads,” he said.

“People’s livelihoods depend on these things.

“Not to mention, the kids can’t go to school if their road is washed out.”

He said rural roads had been getting worse in the district – “you don’t need that much to have a happy life in the country, but you definitely need good roads”.

“The other thing that has to be addressed with urgency is the future of Featherston.

“It’s all very well having fancy ideas about moving the railway station and sticking another 600 people in Featherston, but actually, before that, we have to think, how good is the service this council is providing to Featherston right now?

“If we can’t get that up to a certain standard, why would we want 600 other people to come along?”

He also wanted to revisit “the whole issue of the unsatisfactory rates increase last year”, as did many elected members on the new council.

“This district is interesting because, on the one hand, you do have a number of people who are very well-off, but you also have a lot of people who are not.

“And something like a 28 per cent rates increase is just killing, particularly on top of other costs which the council is not responsible for, like petrol.”

He was also keen to future-proof the district for the impacts of climate change, and increase residents’ perceptions of council business.

In particular, last year’s residents’ survey showed only 24 per cent of Maori residents thought the council was performing well, compared with 45 per cent of non-Maori residents.

“If I cannot lift that statistic in a genuine way, I will feel I have failed.”

Connelly thanked voters for electing a council with a combination of experience and youth.

“I think we are very lucky with the new council, and I feel hugely gratified to the voters for what they’ve done.”

Connelly will replace Mayor Alex Beijen, who received 1007 votes.

Connelly said he was “overwhelmed” when he saw the margin between him and other mayoral candidates.

“It was very clear cut, and that’s a relief.”

Connelly celebrated the win with friends, family, and supporters.

“I had decided that, win or lose, I had to put on a party for the many people who had helped me. There was bound to be lots to celebrate, even if it wasn’t for me.”

Beijen could not be reached for comment. – NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Experienced and new councillors

Each of South Wairarapa’s wards will have an experienced councillor from last triennium representing them: Alistair Plimmer [Greytown], Colin Olds [Featherston], and Pip Maynard [Martinborough].

They will be joined by seven newcomers, including Mayor Martin Connelly.

In Greytown, Plimmer will be joined by Martin Bosley and Aaron Woodcock.

In Featherston, Olds will be joined by Melissa Sadler-Futter and Rebecca Gray.

In Martinborough, Maynard will be joined by Aidan Ellims and Kaye McAuley.

Connelly was pleased with the lineup of councillors.

Although it will be Ellims’ first term on council, Connelly said he had a lot of experience on the community board “and has demonstrated his effectiveness in representing the people”.

He also spoke highly of other elected members on the new council.

Garrick Emms, who was South Wairarapa’s deputy mayor previously, was not re-elected.

Claire Bleakley, who was on the Featherston Community Board and ran for the Featherston ward seat, was also not re-elected. – NZLDR

UNSUCCESSFUL CANDIDATES

Progress results [votes received]

MAYORAL

Alex Beijen [1007], Daphne Geisler [859], Brenda West [510]

COUNCIL

Gareth Rapson [661], Jenna Matchett [518], Mike Gray [513], Ed Martin [492], Phil Blackwood [428], Garrick Emms [369], Jack Grabham [293], Claire Bleakley [274]

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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