Re-elected: Results usher in a new era for democracy in Christchurch

(caption for the above picture: Mayor Lianne Dalziel with her new team of councillors)

- The city is ready for local leadership and I won't let you down, says Mayor Lianne Dalziel

With Christchurch's Mayor Lianne Dalziel winning a second term with over 60,000 votes more than her nearest rival John Minto, the South Island also saw it's longest serving Mayor Tim Shadbolt of Invercargill return to office for a record eighth time.

Also, the City for the first time has 16 councillors from 16 wards. The change came about after a representation review by the Local Government Commission earlier this year. Previously, the City was served by 13 councillors from seven wards.

 Mayor Lianne Dalziel (flashing the victory sign), with her campaign manager Aaron Cambpell (left), Councillor Jimmy Chen (middle), and Kevin Park of Canterbury Migrants Centre

While only one sitting councillor Paul Lonsdale lost his seat, 11 incumbent councillors – including Councillor Jimmy Chen who is the only one from ethnic communities - returned to the Council table with five newcomers joining them.

The community board elections also had few candidates from the ethnic communities standing up for elections, of which two Korean sisters [detailed interview on page 8] and an Indian - Shirish Paranjape, succeeded. Paranjape won from the Waimairi Ward of the Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board. [See the following interview]

Addressing a small gathering of supporters as election results were announced, Dalziel noted, “CERA is gone. Now, it's up to us to make Christchurch the country's leader in democracy and innovation with ideas such as participatory budgeting. From recovery, we have entered into the rebuild phase. My goal is to bring back at least 20,000 people living and working inside the four avenues as soon as possible. The city is ready for local leadership and I won't let you down.”

Shirish Paranjape, elected from the Waimairi Ward of the Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board

What's was your first reaction after you heard you won?

Shirish: Joy, obviously. And definitely satisfying. The entire process of campaigning, which took almost six weeks, was an enriching and enlightening experience for me as well. I would say I am a better informed citizen now.

This was your second attempt at community board elections. What are the reasons for your success this time around?

Shirish: First and foremost, I had three more years of community involvement this time. Moreover, the redrawing of electoral boundaries also helped. The wards now are one third the size of what was earlier. This makes reaching out and connecting to the community much easier. On a personal level, last time I stood in a ward where I myself was not living. While, this time, I reside in the very same area for where I am chosen as a community board member. Finally I would also credit my success to City Councillor Jimmy Chen, who had been a constant source of encouragement for me. After my failure in 2013, he encouraged me not to give up and keep working for the benefit of the community.

Finally, what are your plans for the next three years?

Shirish: To serve the community with passion and integrity, in a nutshell. Also, now that I am inside the local government, I would want to help the community in getting engaged with the local government by working in a transparent manner.