Mayor has landslide win
Jan Barnes wasn’t setting out to make history when she put her hat in the ring to become mayor of the Matamata-Piako District.
All she wanted was the chance to make a difference. Mrs Barnes will now have that chance as she hands over the district’s deputy mayor role and takes up the position as Matamata-Piako District Mayor.
She has also made history as the first woman to be elected.
‘‘It’s been 120 years since women were given the right to vote in this country so I’m very proud of this achievement,’’ she said.
Mrs Barnes comes from a strong line of women. Her great, great grandmother Elizabeth Browne nee McGown came to New Zealand to be hostess for her brother who was an MP.
She married Benjiman Browne and they were among the first European settlers in Waharoa.
On Saturday afternoon, Mrs Barnes was ironing while her husband Rex played the piano for her, when she received a phone call from MatamataPiako District Council chief executive Don McLeod to confirm she had won the mayoralty by a landslide.
The Matamata-based candidate received more than 4500 votes in Saturday’s local body elections, with fellow Matamata candidate Garry Stanley her closest challenger for mayor with 1845 votes.
‘‘I was absolutely blown away when I found out how many people had voted for me,’’ she said.
Mrs Barnes takes over from long standing mayor Hugh Vercoe, who stepped down on Saturday after 15 years in the role.
At 58, she is no stranger to local body politics. She held the role of Matamata-Piako District deputy mayor for three years and was chair- woman of the Matamata Community Board for the same amount of time.
‘‘I’ve always been involved with, and passionate about, community initiatives and groups,’’ she said.
She has been married to husband Rex for 38 years and the couple has three children.
Mrs Barnes said her husband had been a tower of strength throughout her campaign.
Eager to get to work, the self confessed ‘‘girl from Te Poi’’ is looking forward to working with her team and the district she represents.
Mrs Barnes will attend new mayors’ training in Wellington at the end of this week.
She will be officially sworn in on Wednesday November 6 at the Matamata- Piako District Council chambers.
‘‘I thank every single person throughout our district who had faith in me. I’m a grass roots girl who is passionate about people and I’m always available,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ve got a big job ahead of me but I’m up for the challenge.’’
Team Barnes: Matamata-Piako District’s newly elected mayor Jan Barnes with her husband Rex.