I am committed to giving the role of Mayor my all over the coming three years. I congratulate our six returning and six new Councillors. I also acknowledge the unsuccessful Mayoral and Council candidates. It takes energy and courage to stand for public office. Every candidate had the best interests of our Nelson community at heart.

Nelson’s participation rate in the local elections was 51.14%, slightly down on 53% in 2019. This is much better than the national average. I have heard mixed views on the major changes that the previous Council made to our voting system with the switch from FPP (ticks) to STV (number ranking) and the introduction of wards. We need to listen to this feedback in considering what Nelson wants for future local elections. I also believe the days of voting by snail mail are numbered.

It was a hard landing from the celebrations of the election win on Saturday night to the briefing Sunday morning on the Waka Kotahi/NZTA decision of a seven week closure of State Highway 6 to Blenheim for millions of dollars of storm repair work. This disruption comes just as our visitor and hospitality industry has started to recover from Covid. There is no question the works are required, but I would prefer it was being advanced with multiple rather than single daily shifts to reduce the closure period. I will be pushing hard to ensure it is completed on time so as not to further disrupt Christmas and Nelson’s summer visitor season. We have also extended the Mayoral Relief Fund to cater for those affected by the highway closure.

The highway closure reinforces the scale of the flood and landslide damage inflicted on our region that is going to take years to fix and cost tens of millions of dollars. My top priority is ensuring this repair work is progressed as quickly as possible, that we build more resiliently and that we give every possible support to affected homeowners.
I confess to finding the challenges ahead daunting. Finances are going to be very tight with the flood costs as well as the Council facing the same rapid increases in costs hitting households and businesses. We have major issues with key Council buildings like the Library and Civic House. There is the big job ahead in rebuilding trust amongst Councillors, staff and the community. It is going to take years of hard graft, but I am up for the challenge.