It is perhaps no surprise that the last 24 hours saw more Tweets to me than any other period in my life, as the results from the local body elections came in.
I was overwhelmed by the messages, which were very positive about my securing a shade over 7,300 votes—quite some way off from the incumbent and Councillor Wade-Brown with their 24,000-plus, but, according to many of you, a creditable effort. Off the top of my head, that’s around 12 per cent of the vote—considerably higher than any Fairfax Press poll stated, and within the margin of error of our own polling.
Most of the messages asked that I run again in 2013, something which I may well consider as I weigh up my options.
Last night, we held our post-campaign party at the Wellington Apartments, to which Councillors Wade-Brown and Ritchie came, as well as my opponent-turned-endorser, Bernard O’Shaughnessy, who gave a very touching and meaningful speech. Many of our campaign team and core supporters attended, and I thank each and every one who has punched well above their weight. Some were out of town and could not attend. Nevertheless, I thank Albertus, Helen, Chelfyn, Stephen, Daniel, Kelly, Sonata, Craig, Brian, Sibylle, Aaron, Chloe, Jim, John, Natasha; I thank all those who donated to the campaign to get us even this far, including Brett and Tania at Soi who hosted our ﬁrst campaign event back in April. We managed to get a third of the number of our chief opponents using roughly a tenth of the budget: that’s how hard everyone worked. I think the campaign-spending stats, when they come out, will reveal that we secured the most voters for the least amount—showing that the tide is turning against big money and “politics as usual”.
I enjoyed proving some of the doubters wrong: those who believed that a non-politician could not possibly be in the top three, that we could not get some of our ideas on the agenda for Wellington, and that we could not engage a sizeable chunk of young people to come out to vote. I also enjoyed seeing the polls fall ﬂat: so much for their margins of error and their claimed accuracy. (One from Fairfax gave Councillor Pepperell victory at 35 per cent [on Stuff] and another 25 per cent; the reality was 9 per cent. From memory, none gave Councillor Wade-Brown a ﬁgure near the 38 per cent she ultimately secured.)
Yesterday’s Fairfax Press paper here had a sizeable article on technology: a realization, at last, of the things I have been talking about for a whole year. They are now recognized. Now let us hope that the new council puts some of these ideas into play: the need for free wiﬁ beyond a self-congratulatory Fairfax front-page ad, how creative clusters can grow our GDP, and the need for a tech strategy to aid growth and exports in our city. I am happy to note that Councillor Wade-Brown recognizes the validity of many of these ideas, and, to put the cherry on the cake, that she had the decency in our debates to give credit where it is due. I have speciﬁcs on how to achieve them, and am willing to share this information with her if she wins.
There are 900 special votes that are yet to be counted in Wellington, plus 90-odd informal ballots. All need to be considered. I thank the High Sheriff, Ross Bly, and his deputy, Lauren Kemple, for their tireless work, along with the entire electoral ofﬁce, as their work begins on Monday counting these last votes.
Someone asked me why I thought these last ones will tip the balance in favour of Councillor Wade-Brown as our Mayor-elect. I confess it was a gut instinct, and I had some intel from Bernard telling me that special votes tended to reﬂect the regular votes. However, I believe there is a difference this time.
When Sir Michael Fowler and I were interviewed at the beginning of the week, we were told by a member of the media that Mayor Prendergast had stopped campaigning the Friday before. Perhaps she was buoyed by her polling: she seemed conﬁdent of the ‘scientiﬁc’ polls that placed her comfortably ahead and relayed this to one of our mutual contacts. What I do know is that the last week, and the push to get special votes, saw Councillors Wade-Brown and Pepperell, Mr O’Shaughnessy and I continue to campaign. (I do not know if Mr Mansell did.) If that effort translates to anything, I believe these last 900 votes will reﬂect those who did this work in the last few days.
The last 54 weeks were some of the best in my life. I look back at them with fondness, especially the last few where we debated one another. I was delighted to be on the trail alongside my opponents, and be reasonably successful at the many forums held around our city. But, most of all, it was an honour to stand and represent Wellingtonians in this campaign. I will be interested to see if we have secured change at the Mayor’s ofﬁce come mid-week.