Sunday was an interesting and nerve wracking day for two of Tauranga’s City Council 2019 election hopefuls Bill Grainger and Terry Molloy.
The progress results had come through on Saturday for the Te Papa/Welcome Bay ward and it was clear that newcomer Tina Salisbury had secured one of the two available council seats for the ward.
At 12.15pm on Sunday, Terry Molloy was sitting in the sunshine waiting on the preliminary results for the Tauranga City Council elections to come out. At that moment he was ahead of Bill Grainger by a mere 30 votes, which were announced in the progress votes the day before.
“Sometime before 4 o’clock I’ll know the results,” says Terry.
“It’s in the lap of the gods. I’ve been here before and I keep telling people too, it’s not about me, it’s about the city. If I’m there, that’s great and I can try and do something, and if I’m not then that’s just the way it is.”
The day before on Saturday afternoon, Terry took a break, slipping down to a friend’s place at Lake Rotoiti.
“With STV I knew it would be a preliminary result, and if it was close then there’d be some more counting to do. They wouldn’t have calculated in all of Saturday’s votes and all the specials.
“Yesterday afternoon we went down to Rotoiti, had a few glasses of wine on the edge of the lake and waited for the result.”
And Sunday afternoon they were still waiting.
“At least we’ve got a nose in front,” says Terry. “I mean, it could have been that we were out altogether or we may have been behind but we’ve got our nose in front and I don't see any reason why the trend would change. But it may well change. It may swing back to Bill.”
He was philosophical about the change in the political landscape of the Te Papa/Welcome Bay ward. Newcomer Tina Salisbury had passed both Terry and Bill with a strong result.
“I'm not surprised,” says Terry. “Tina has a strong support base with her, and I’m not at all surprised.
“If you look at all the problems we’ve had in council, there was a real mood for change.”
He pondered on who was gone and who had been voted back in.
“I think some of the councillors that have been retained, like Kelvin, Larry and Steve are guys who have their feet on the ground and know what’s going on. John is very knowledgeable. It should be quite a reasonable mix.”
Terry was born, educated and has lived in Tauranga all his life. His family have lived in the area for nearly 100 years. Past president of Tauranga Fruit Growers, Terry has also been chair of the committee that drove the Greerton Village redevelopment, with some of the now iconic cherry blossom trees – ‘Terry’s cherries’ - coming from his property in lower Pyes Pa. He also played a major part in having the Greerton Library built.
He is a member of Greerton Lions, a past member of the Greerton Night Owls, and chair of the BOP Coromandel Automobile Association. He’s coached rugby, cycled from Tauranga to Te Anau, and has taken up golf. He’s been a Tauranga City councillor for six years.
“Once we got Marty [Grenfell] on board, things started heading in the right direction again,” says Terry. “But the relationships weren’t good, we were working in silos and trying to fix that. That's something that I really want to try and help this time - make sure those relationships and communications – with the Coms team, community, executive, and with our other partners like Western Bay and Regional Council - we really have to improve those relationships.
“That's something I tried, but then I got bogged down in the begging issue, and that was trying to help the small businesses, but also it’s quite a lot of work trying to find a solution for the homeless.
“And also I spent a lot of time trying to assist small businesses in the CBD, while we were going through restructuring. I don't think people fully understood the severity of the hardship that was going on there through no fault of their own. I spend a lot of time trying to get some assistance for them, when really I should have been concentrating on the bigger picture. Because that’s our job I believe - to get things set up for our future generations, and we got too bogged down in those types of issues. And we weren’t fixing where we should have been, not through want of trying, but because it was just the way it crumbled.
“Whether you're a councillor for a ward like the Mount or Te Papa, you have to act in the best interest of the whole city. The city works as a unit, it doesn’t work as broken down little sections. You’ve always got to be thinking right across the city. We do have particular issues here in Te Papa, but the support that’s needed for the issues here are no different from the support needed in Papamoa or Otumoetai. We have to work across the lot.”
Terry has some thoughts too on whether there should be more or less wards.
“I’m inclined to think we should all be ‘at-large’ councillors. That’s what we’re formed to do, to act in the best interests of the whole city.”
The change in the voting process from first past the post to the newly adopted STV has been fascinating.
“We’ll have to wait and get some detailed analysis of it to see what effect it did have. I'll be very interested to find out because it's extremely difficult to try to explain to people how it works.
“Let’s wait and see. But certainly I'm surprised. I would have thought that Tina and Bill would have taken Te Papa. Bill had a very strong following at Welcome Bay. He was 800 votes ahead of me last time and I didn’t see any reason why that was going to change necessarily.
“I thought I might retain my support, and then Tina was quite an attractive proposition in terms of what she stood for. She also got a lot of the women votes, and she would have got a lot of support from the Christian group that she’s associated with that. So I’m not at all surprised that she is where she is.”
“And then you’ve got all the problems that Council had over the years so roll all that together, and I think she’s done a good job.
“And she will do a good job actually. I’d be very keen to see her stay there for some time. “
Terry has had a few thoughts about what he would do if he wasn’t elected back into Council.
“There’s a lot of things I'd like to do. I'd quite like to get involved in the social sector around town, but then my wife and I might go overseas for a little while. Do another working holiday over there, which we’ve done before. And there’s other projects and things I’ve got going exercising my mind if I don't get in.
He sent a message to Bill the day before.
“I texted him that it’s not over yet and I wish him luck.”
As we know, a couple of hours later on Sunday afternoon, the preliminary results came in, and due to the late surge in voting with over 2500 votes to be counted across the city, Terry found himself dropping down to fourth place with 1856 votes, Bill Grainger in second place with 2370 votes, and newcomer Anna Larsen with 2316 votes.
There’s now only 54 votes between Bill and Anna, and so the race continues, with some special votes still to be counted. Final results are expected by Friday October 18.