Hawkins prepares to decide top spots

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Dunedin’s next mayor is set to decide who he wants to occupy top jobs such as the deputy mayor position this weekend.

On Saturday, Green Party candidate and incumbent councillor Aaron Hawkins (35) was elected the city’s next mayor, replacing outgoing three-term mayor Dave Cull.

Mr Hawkins secured 16,492 votes – a 2395-vote margin over closest rival Cr Lee Vandervis, who got 14,097.

Four new councillors were elected – Jules Radich, Carmen Houlahan, Sophie Barker and Steve Walker – to replace Mr Cull and departing councillors Conrad Stedman and Kate Wilson.

Damian Newell failed to win a seat to return for a second term.

Mr Hawkins will remain mayor-elect until he is sworn in at the inaugural meeting of the new council on October 25.

Mr Cull is officially still the mayor until tomorrow, when his powers will transfer to council chief executive Sue Bidrose until that meeting.

Mr Hawkins, speaking to The Star on Tuesday, said when his win was announced it was initially “overwhelming” but now he was “looking forward to getting stuck in”.

“It was a very long interview process – and I’m looking forward to getting on with the job”.

Despite his mayoralty officially starting next week, he had been busy since his win was announced.

On Sunday, he attended a North Dunedin street clean-up held in memory of student Sophia Crestani, who died on October 5.

“It was a sobering start to formal duties.”

From Monday, he had been meeting councillors and senior staff to get a sense of what they wanted to achieve over the next three years so committee structures could be created in a bid to deliver on the council’s strategic priorities.

Asked who he planned to give the top jobs to, such as deputy mayor, he replied: “I haven’t offered any jobs to anybody at this stage”.

He planned to make those decisions by the end of this weekend.