The big news this past week has been the outcome of the local government elections, and with the preliminary results released over the weekend, we are almost at the point of certainty about which people will be leading our district for the next three years around the Council table.
The Ashburton District has a new mayor-elect, Neil Brown. He is joined by five returning councillors (Diane Rawlinson, Leen Braam, Liz McMillan, Lynette Lovette and Stuart Wilson) and three new additions to the Council team (Carolyn Cameron, John Falloon and Rodger Letham) plus former Mayor Angus McKay as a councillor. Of course, the official results are yet to be released this week, but as it stands, we have a very firm indication of who our elected members are for the next three years.
I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate these representatives on being elected, and also acknowledge those candidates who missed out. Putting your name forward to represent your community is not an easy decision, yet is the cornerstone of democracy.
In particular, I'd like to thank our previous term of councillors who either did not seek re-election or who were unsuccessful at the weekend; former Mayor Donna Favel, Alasdair Urquhart, Peter Reveley, Russell Ellis, Selwyn Price and Thelma Bell. Thank you for your tireless service to our district.
One of the outcomes that may have been missed in this week's election coverage was our voter turnout. Strong turnout for elections is a great thing for local democracy. I was very pleased to see that we surpassed the 2016 election turnout, with 55.1 per cent of eligible voters returning their ballot papers. Three years ago, this was 53.2 per cent.
Many Canterbury councils out-performed the national turnout of 41.47 per cent, and Ashburton District sat highly amongst our neighbouring councils. Interestingly, South Island communities generally experienced better turnout than those in the North Island.
It's a positive outcome that more people made their voices heard on the future of our district these elections.
Moving forward, we have an important date coming up. Next Thursday at 10.00am (24 October) our new term of Council will be sworn in at the inaugural Council meeting. Once sworn in, all elected members will then be officially in their role. Please note that until the official election results are released this week, this meeting time and date are tentative, but the Council will confirm this information as soon as possible.
If you'd like to tune into this important meeting, don't forget that the Council livestreams our meetings onto our YouTube and Facebook (@AshburtonDC) pages so you can watch the activities as they happen or at a time that suits you.