New Whangārei Mayor Vince Cocurullo says he is excited about leading the district forward.
“We are in a period of rapid growth. There is a lot to be done,” Cocurullo said.
Cocurullo, who describes himself as centre right, has been elected as mayor of Northland’s largest urban centre on his fourth attempt.
“I”m looking forward to getting the new council on track. There is a lot of work to be done,” Cocurullo said.
“Thank you to all those who voted for me. I’m proud to be a locally-born mayor representing the people of Whangārei district.”
Cocurullo won the Whangārei mayoral race by a resounding majority, with 7132 votes. This was 2148 votes ahead of next rival and local government newcomer Mike Budd who earned 4984 votes, and Budd’s tally was 697 more than sitting Whangārei District councillor Ken Couper’s 4287 votes.
The balance of the seven WDC mayoral candidates were Brad Flower with 3963, Shaquille Shortland 1708, Nick Jacob 1397 and Fiona Green 89 votes.
Departing three-term Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai decided not to stand again at the 2022 local elections.
Cocurullo said he was looking forward to working with fellow councillors in the next couple of weeks, building a new team based on their strengths.
He was first elected onto Whangārei District Council 15 years ago in 2007, and stood unsuccessfully for mayor in the 2010 and 2013 local government elections, but was again elected as a WDC councillor in 2016 and 2019.
Cocurullo is strongly against Three Waters, and said WDC would continue to oppose the current government restructuring plan for the sector.
He voted against Māori wards being brought in to the council.
In the wake of his mayoral win, he said his opposition to Māori wards was based on dissatisfaction with the process used to bring the Māori electoral area in, without going out to the people of Whangārei to ask what they wanted on that count.
But Cocurullo said he looked forward to working with everyone on council – including those in the new Whangārei District Māori ward.
He said government legislation change underpinned the introduction of new Māori wards and they would now be in place for at least three years.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air