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THE MAYORAL ELECTION.

The election of Mayor for the city took place yesterelay at the City Council Chambers, and as this, was the first election that has taken place under the new Act, which provides for single voting, the excitement was greater than has been the case for a long time.

The poll opened at 9 0.m., and shortly after that hour the streets were busy with cobs of oil kinds, bearing placards indicating the direction in which it would be desirable to vote; these, however, being somewhat contradictory, as, while some desired the burgesses to " Vote for Thomson," others preferred that they should "Vote for Gapes," and posters to a similar effect were conspicuously displayed throughout the city. During the day the greatest energy was displayed in and about the candidates' committee rooms, both of which were in Oxford Terrace, convenient to the polling place. Early in the afternoon a notice was posted outside the Council office that the poll would be declared about half-past seven, and long before that hour a large concourse of citizens has assembled, the usual . amount of chaff indulged in on such occasions serving to while away the time while waiting for the appointed hour. Remarks were also made— and turned out to be correct —that although there are over 1300 names on the roll, it would be found that neither of the candidates hod polled 500 votes. Shortly ofter half -past seven Mr G. L. Lee, returning officer, appeared in front of the Council Chamber, and announced the result to be as follows :—

I Henry Thomson 474 James Gapes 461 He (Mr Lee) had therefore to declare Mr Thomson duly elected Mayor for the ensuing year. [Cheers.] Mr Thomson, who on mounting the choir was received with cheers, said that it had so repeatedly been dinned into his ears during the last six weeks or so that he had not a leg to stand on, that he had begun to think this must be true. He had therefore prepared a speech for the other side, and that being the case he hoped that a long speech would not be expected from him. He thanked them for the proud position they had placed him in, and he did not receive the gift from the burgesses as any vanity to himself personally. [Laughter and cheers.] He had repeatedly told gentlemen in the city during the last four or five months that if a better man in his estimation came forward, he would ot once retire —[cheers] —but as no better man did come forward he had remained, and the result of the contest had shown that the proof of the pudding was in the eating of it. He had been accused of being the representative of a certain class. He denied this in toto. He represented all classes, and he deprecated the practice of raising class against class. He was willing to make all due allowance under the circumstances for the crest-fallen appearance of his venerable friend, who had never counted on anything so certain in his life, and in this instance the dark " Mayor " had turned ont the better horse. [Laughter.] He had not felt the least annoyed with anyone for voting against him, and he had said to friends who told him they had'pledgedithemselves to vote against him, that in doing so they acted right and done 'their duty. [Applause.] But he would say this to the ratepayers—"Don't pledge yourselves until all the candidates have come forward."—[" You're not the best one."] —He begged to thank all the gentlemen who had voted for him—[" Those you paid "] —very much, and he was afraid that if he had paid anyone he would not have had his vote. He did not entertain the slightest feeling of animosity against any gentleman who had voted against, him. [Groans, and " You want burying."]

After loud cries for " Gapes,"

Mr Gapes mounted the chair, and was received with loud and prolonged cheering. Ho said he had heartily to thank those who had voted for him that day, and those who had voted against him hod no doubt acted according to their conscience. [Cheers.] He would ask them to make a slight allowance for him while he alluded to the mean, despicable—[confusion] —yes, be would repeat the mean, despicable scoundrels who had put their pen to poper to damnge Ins character —[loud cheers] —and he was further surprised at newspapers in such a community as this should he considered which would allow such scurrilous articles and letters to appear in their columns. [Groans; and "They were paid for them."] He considered these articles from the commencement to be beneath his notice, and had not replied to any of them or answered them in any form. [Cheers.] He was very glad to find that though he was not at the head of the pall, there were gentlemen in Christchurch who had come forward to vindicate his character. [Loud cheers.] He felt his position just as proud as if he had been voted in by a small majority —[cheers and laughter] —as those numbers showed they had appreciated his conduct and character, and threw back the lie to those slanderers. [Cheers.] He had heen slandered more than any other man in Canterbury, and ho would put it to them whether this was not the case. When returned as Mayor last year, some of these scurilous articles appeared in the " Star," and said that the laughing public must look out for sport at the end of the year. It had been said that nothing had occurred of any importance during his term of office. He considered that circumstances had occurred during that time of equal importance to those which had happened during the time that any other gentleman had occupied the same position. First, was the Governor's visit to CHiristchurch. It was proposed in the Council at that time that he (Mr Gapes) should go to the expense himself of getting up a ball and invite the leading citizcm to it, at a cost of some £300 or £400. This he did not exactly see. [Cheers and laughter.] He politely asked the councillors—but not in open Council—to give him advice in the matter and assist him in receiving his Excellency, and he was advised—(and he hoped this would not touch some of them present too sharply)—to let the Governor go as he came. But he took it upon himself to act in a different manner. He entertained his Excellency in a fitting way, and the Governor departed from here with credit to the manner he had been treated by him (Mr Gapes) and also with credit to the city. [Loud cheers.] There was another little incident which had occurred. If they would loot into the newspapers of sth May they would see a statement wherein he had recommended the Council to hold a conference of all the municipalities in New Zealand. This had been referred to the finance committee, who had recommended its adoption, which was approved of by the Council, and action was taken with the other municipalities to get the conference in working order. After all this the Council got another man to go to Wellington over his nead. [Disapprobation.] The gentleman who went had occupied the position of Mayor for two years, and he (Mr Gapes) did not blame that gentleman, but those who had acted together in sending him over his head when he (Mr Gapes) had taken the course he did, and considered he had done bis duty. Had he gone to Wellington he would have done so at his own expense, and would have positively refused to have received any compensation for going there. [Applause and laughter.] But the credit had not been given to ham for introduciug that question. He had introduced it, and he would defy any man to show where it had been brought forward in the Council before he had done so. In Wellington Mr Hobbs had been lauded up for this, and one newspaper hod stated that he (Mr Hobbs) had introduced the question into the Christchurch City Council, when it was himself (Mr Gapes) who had actually done it. [A Voice—" It was Turner who did it."] He (Mr Gapes) would defy any man to say that it had been introduced to the Council till he did it himßelf. [A voice —" Mr Hobbs says it will be found on the minutes of the finance committee."] He (Mr Gapes) could prove his statements from the minutes of the open Council. [Cheere.] There was another thing complained of, and that was the action he had taken with reference to the unemployed. He went among tho mob, os they were (-ailed, looked every one in the face, and saw for himself that they were all working men. [Cheers] He had been accused of lowering the dignity of his position by going among a lot of loafers.

[Groars.] But this had not been proved, for aided by Mr March in his efforts he had opened up communication with the Government, who granted a subsidy, and the Council having also sanctioned an outlay, the men had been given employment, and by going to work had shown they were no loafers, as a loafer would not work at any price. [Cheers.] He took credit to himself for what had been done "at that time, and these men, through being found employment, were now located throughout the district. [Applause.] There wos another little incident, ond that was with reference to the fund which had been raised for the starving people in India. He had received a telegram horn the Mayor of Wellington, requesting his co-operation through a telegram received from the Lord Mayor of London. He [Mr Gapes] at once made arrangements to set the boll rolling, and these arrangements initiated by him hod had so desired an effect, that the result hod been that a larger amount had been subscribed in Canterbury than in any other part of New Zealand. [Loud cheers.J He could assure them that it had gone against his grain to stand against any of his old colleagues. He would not have stood for Mayor had it not been that an effort had been made to damage his character, and ho had determined to ask the electors who was right and who was wrong. [Loud cheers.] On his conscience, he would tell them that it was only as a matter of principle he had stood, and he regretted for principle only that he had not been elected; but the numbers he had polled, with all the influence that had been brought against him, was convincing proof to his mind that the people of Christchurch approved of his past conduct. [Loud and prolonged cheering.] He begged to return his sincere thanks for the manner in which the election had been conducted, as .he considered it had been carried on respectably and fairly. [A Voice— Not by Thomson.] He again begged to give his sincere thanks to those gentlemen who had voted for him that day. [Loud cheers, and "Three cheers for Gapes."]

Mr Thomson, amid groans and hooting, mounted the chair, but could not obtain a hearing, and after remaining in that position for some time without being heard, got down.

The Returning Officer got on the chair, and hoped the citizens of Christchurch would not depart on the present occasion from the practice they had always shown of giving every one what he was entitled to, viz., a fair hearing. [ApplauseJ Mr Thomson again essayed to speak, but would not be heard.

Mr Gapes, amid loud cries and cheers, got on the chair, and said Mr Thomson had proposed a vote of thanks to the Returning Officer, and he would second that vote with a very great deal of pleasure. [Applause.] The crowd then dispersed, the latter portion of the proceedings having been carried on amid more noise and excitement than has taken place at meetings here for a long while.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18771129.2.21

Bibliographic details

THE MAYORAL ELECTION., Press, Volume XXVIII, Issue 3855, 29 November 1877

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THE MAYORAL ELECTION. Press, Volume XXVIII, Issue 3855, 29 November 1877

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