End of a 27-year council career
After spending 27 years on the Central Otago District Council, switching off won’t be an easy task.
Outgoing mayor Tony Lepper admits he is disappointed and shocked at the margin he lost the mayoralty race to rival Tim Cadogan.
Cadogan received 5288 votes to Lepper’s 2637.
‘‘I thought it was going to be a close race but that was a massive majority. I am really disappointed. I thought it would be really, really close and it wasn’t. The mood for change was far bigger than I gauged,’’ Lepper said from his Earnscleugh home on Sunday.
The change to district wide rates funding had ‘‘hurt’’ his campaign, as had the mood for change.
‘‘We annoyed a few people in Cromwell and farmers in the Manuherikia.’’
While surprised at the results, he had a suspicion ‘‘change might happen’’ and left his office last week prepared, he said.
‘‘I did a real good job on Wednesday. I cleared out all my files and I had all the to-do stuff in case it was going to be Tim because I thought change might happen. Everyone asked, ‘what are you cleaning out your office for?’ and I said, ‘well, just in case. I don’t want to do it over the weekend’. I went in (on Saturday) and took a couple of photos of horses off the wall and that was all I had to do. And hand the car keys in. I had thought it through. All the staff said, ‘you’ll be back on Monday’, but I said, ‘I wouldn’t be so sure of that’.’’
Lepper entered council as a young 32-year-old in 1989 after local orchardists asked him to stand. He served four terms under Bill McIntosh, then three terms as Malcolm Macpherson’s deputy mayor before becoming mayor himself in 2010.
‘‘I have enjoyed every minute of it...It is going to take a lot to get out of your head..There is no comeback. I was going to retire in three years, it just happened three years early.’’
The past three had been the highlight of his 27-year stint and he had hoped for another three to see big projects through.
‘‘The worst thing is the past three years has been the highlight. I wanted to get back in which made it hurt more. I was committed to getting infrastructure projects up and running.’’
Now it was time for a break before looking for his next challenge.