Paul Young, the newly elected Asian Kiwi Councillor is on a new high, and it’s got nothing to do with the V energy drink he is sipping on.
Sleep-deprived ever since he got a call from the council on Thursday noon saying he had claimed the highest number of votes at the Auckland Council by-election for the Howick ward, he has been answering congratulatory calls and messages from council members, MPs and well-wishers locally as well as internationally.
Young won with 7631 votes ahead of Howick Local board member Jim Donald with 5830 votes.
He says he barely slept for an hour that night – or since.
On Saturday morning he was invited for tree planting at Riverina School.
Even before he can get officially sworn in on September 27 at the Auckland Town Hall, he has been inundated with invitations.
When the Times met him on Monday evening just before he was scheduled to attend his first Howick Local Board meeting, “not officially though since I am not as yet sworn in as a councillor,” Mr Young had spent the entire day being oriented at the city council, trying to find his way around –from the car park to the 26th floor—meeting councillors, having a one-on-one introduction with Mayor Phil Goff at his office, meeting deputy mayor Bill Cashmore, council staff, followed by a health and safety session.
“It was so much information but everyone was so welcoming and supportive,” he says of his first day at the council.
Mr Young has lived in New Zealand for 30 years with his wife Rosana and two children Martin and Kelly, both currently studying at Auckland University, with Martin studying Engineering and Kelly doing Law.
While Mr Young has contested both the general as well as the Botany by-election in the past, he found himself sixth time lucky.
“Every year I gave it my best shot and was confident of winning, but this time I did win!”
He says he visited Ronald Chan, 83-year-old former founder of the Fruit World chain of green grocers to personally thank him. “This is the first time he voted after living here for 70 years. Henceforth, I think all candidates should visit him since he is a lucky charm,” he laughs.
And while the newly-elected councillor is buzzing with excitement, he says there is no time to celebrate.
“There is so much to learn and catch up on so that I can action things. The responsibility is huge.
“There will be another local body election next year, so I have to be a quick leaner.
“Being a councillor is not just a fancy title, its serious business,” says Mr Young, who has been in the event promotion business organising concerts and international musicians like Richard Clayderman to New Zealand. He’s also been involved with bringing international entertainers to Sky City during Chinese New Year, as well as running a photography business in Somerville.
Mr Young says he is a proud Chinese Kiwi who will not be focusing on any particular group but will work hard for all Aucklanders. He wants everyone to approach him with problems so that he can help them.
At the last election, when two councillors were elected for Howick, Young won the third highest votes of 7046 after the late Dick Quax (15,516).
He has finally realised a long-held ambition to represent the area and take the simple message of better transportation, improved law and order, lower petrol prices and planning a shuttle bus for the area, to the Town Hall.