Thank goodness I did not have a ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ moment on Saturday

On Saturday, I called then-Councillor, and now Mayor-elect, Celia Wade-Brown to congratulate her. I felt sure that the special votes would see her ushered in, and in my Sky TV interview that night, I stated much the same: I would offer our new Mayor my support for programmes that would benefit the people of Wellington. We all share a desire to make our city great, and that’s a fantastic starting-point.
   I’m glad I made the right call on Saturday, otherwise it would have been my televised ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ moment.
   Soon after, she and her husband, as well as a few of the Celia for Mayor campaign team, joined us at our event, along with Councillor Ritchie, who was re-elected. We had intended to join hers at Finc, but as they started earlier, their function ended earlier. We were still going, buoyed by a speech from my former rival and now friend Bernard O’Shaughnessy.
   While the Mayor-elect and I exchanged emails this morning, prior to the official announcement of the final results by the High Sheriff, I was able to congratulate her in person at the Backbencher pub earlier tonight.
   I pay tribute to her and her dignified campaign, and her willingness to give credit to policies where it was due from the very start. Leadership must acknowledge the notion of fair play. I am delighted that we believe that ICT will play an important role in our city’s future.
   You might say we worked together, at least, to ensure that the process was fair. When Access Radio mentioned they might like to interview me for Espace Français, I told them that Councillor Wade-Brown should also be approached, as the other Francophone candidate. It was as early as April when we debated one another—in French no less! I don’t know if it was the Councillor’s first debate of the season, but it was mine. I am willing to bet that it was the first political debate in a foreign language for us both.
   She was equally generous with providing opportunities: when she learned of events before I did, I can remember two occasions in which she forwarded me a note.
   We exchanged a few notes during the year and realized that we faced at least some editorial bias from one foreign company. Thankfully, the majority of people in Wellington was too smart to fall for that, and both of us did better than had been predicted by some so-called specialists.
   Her supporters will be pleased to know that consultation, which the Mayor-elect had preached during her campaign, was practised.
   Just as I had a reasonably good dialogue with the outgoing Mayor, Kerry Prendergast, till we became more guarded rivals, I look forward, as a Wellingtonian, to supporting our Mayor-elect.
   It’s a great start to what I hope will be a better three years for our city.
   And as her predecessor’s years come to a close, it is only right that I offer Mayor Prendergast a tribute, too.
   It takes great sacrifice to be in a public role, and she has done that as Mayor for nine years. It is the culmination of many years of sacrifice of putting others first.
   My late mother was a midwife, and it takes a selfless mindset to start in that career. I note that Mayor Prendergast began her career in the same profession, before being elected to the Tawa Community Board, and then to Wellington City Council.
   As a businessman, outside of our respective campaigns, nearly all of my dealings with Mayor Prendergast were positive. She honoured every appointment request I made of her. It is those memories that will remain with me, especially the New Year shows that I have hosted at which she was guest of honour, as she departs from office.
   Never mind that politically, she and I differed. I believed we needed a city IT strategy through the last few years, as growth slowed in our city. I would not have said no to free wifi in 2008, even if she came right on this during the campaign trail. Based on my years doing business strategies, I felt we were being weighed down by bureaucracy—not to mention some entrenched bureaucrats—which needed a solution, either of greater transparency or a renewed corporate culture.
   I trust our Mayor-elect recognizes the many issues that face Wellington: I am sure, after hearing my and my other opponents’ addresses for three weeks on a daily basis, she knows there are pressing concerns, such as our debt, that must be addressed beyond her own manifesto.
   I am sure that we all look forward to Wellington’s future together, in a spirit of cooperation. We can make our city globally competitive and great again.

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