Recount request sees returning councillor back in

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IN requesting a recount, Alison Silcock says she simply wanted a definitive answer and closure following her eviction from the Whakatane District Council based on random chance.

“I did the recount to satisfy myself that that was the community’s final decision,” said Mrs Silcock.

“Of course I stood to win, just like Hinerangi (Goodman) and Jackie (Te Amo) stood to win – you don’t run to come second. But, to me, it was a final result and closure whatever it was.”

Many have questioned Mrs Silcock’s timing in requesting the recount, but she said she could not request the recount until the result had been publicly announced, which only gave her two days before the council’s swearing-in ceremony.

“Whakatane is not the only one, there are various mayors and councillors going for recounts throughout the country,” said Mrs Silcock.

“But, we had a unique situation with the annual report needing to be approved for the auditor-general.”

There has also been anger from many in the Murupara community who were delighted to have a Maori representative for the predominately Maori town and were disappointed to see that prospect leave.

This anger has seen many vent their frustrations online, insulting Mrs Silcock and claiming the process was racist, rigged and a circus.

RETURNED: After a recount, Alison Silcock was returned to council as the Murupara-Galatea ward councillor.

Mrs Silcock has been avoiding Facebook but said she also had many supporters, including Mem Jenner who wrote a post in support of her, which attracted many positive comments.

“Whatever you do there will always be a faction that will be anti, I haven’t seen it, but I know it has been torrid,” she said.

“But, there are a lot of people, Maori and non-Maori, who are pleased the process has been followed correctly and this is the outcome.

“Those people supported the process and support what I have done previously in the community.”

Despite the negativity and controversy surrounding her re-election to council, Mrs Silcock is reluctant to say whether change is needed in the system.

Some have said a recount should have been done before the random chance election was made, but Mrs Silcock said she had heard anecdotally that a tie was made in Queenstown following a recount.

“I think, like all legislation, there needs to be a review from time to time,” she said.

“Not a whole change, but just like the bylaws that come through council, there are checks, balances and tweaks that are more in keeping with 2019 rather than 2010 or further back when these laws were drafted.”

Mrs Silcock’s recount was made through the Electoral Act 2001, section 90.

The council originally announced Mrs Silcock would be sworn in on November 7, but this has been delayed until November 13. She believes this is so the council can arrange something that would not impact Mrs Goodman’s mana.

“I am not sure what they are planning but I believe something should be done for every councillor who might find themselves in her position.”

Mayor Judy Turner said the delay was due to the changing availability of speakers and reports for the agenda that were initially intended.

“We are very mindful of the number of meetings and training sessions the council has between now and Christmas and want to be as efficient with people’s precious time as practicable,” said Mrs Turner.