I could hardly believe it, when the Returning Officer read out the figures—Celia Wade Brown was only 40 votes behind incumbent Mayor Kerry Prendergast!
Kerry looked mortified, Celia looked stunned, and the crowd that had gathered in the Wellington Council foyer looked amazed—because there had been no hint, in the media, that the election was other than a shoo-in for Kerry Prendergast.
The Dompost had largely ignored the election, and left voters with the impression that while Celia was a serious challenger, Kerry was a shoo-in. Clearly, they were unaware of the cliff-hanger right under their noses.
Anyway there were great celebrations on Saturday night, as we looked forward to Wellington having its first green-leaning Mayor—an inclusive, grass roots Mayor with a new transport vision and a commitment to working with small business and clean technology.
We were all buoyed by the Auckland election result as well. While Brown was obviously the favourite candidate, I am sure there was an element, in his overwhelming result, of Aucklanders sending a clear signal to Rodney Hide, John key and the government that they hated the way the government had rammed the super-city legislation through without consultation, and the way the government had wiped out eight perfectly well functioning Councils without even consulting voters first.
Hopefully the government will get the message—that if it interferes in local government, and rams legislation through without consultation—there will be a voter backlash.