Nongprue’s first-ever mayor lost his bid for re-election, ending nearly 15 years in office and kicking off a new era for the Pattaya subdistrict.
Mai Chaiyanit, first elected mayor in November 2006, garnered only 39.1 percent of the vote in Sunday’s elections, as Pattaya-area voters clearly signaled their desire for a change in leadership after a decade and a half of cozy local politics.
Ousting Chaiyanit was Winai Inpitak, a former member of the Chonburi Provincial Council, who collected 13,521 votes to Mai’s 8,683.
In Banglamung, Jaraywat Chinawat defeated Narathip Fukreak 2,719 votes to 2,416.
Also defeated in the first local elections since before the 2014 coup was Takhiantia Mayor Manop Prakobthum, who was defeated by Jaran Prakobthum, taking 61 percent of all votes.
In Pong Subdistrict, former mayor Anucha Pienchai regained his seat over challenger in Kimhuay Boonleng 3,272 votes to 2,549 in an open-seat battle.
Re-elected on Sunday were Nong Plalai Mayor Pinyo Homklun and Huay Yai Mayor Pairat Trisupachok.
But it was Mai’s defeat in Nongprue, which governs the area east of Sukhumvit Road called the “dark side” of Pattaya, but is not within the legal city borders, that rippled like an earthquake through the East Sunday.
He was elected in 2006 after years as chairman of the Nongprue civil administration after Thailand changed the law governing districts and subdistricts to allow direct election of local leaders. He was swept into office with more than 70 percent of the vote and re-elected in 2011 by the same margin.
But the career bureaucrat and politician has not stood for election in a decade, wielding power after the coup which saw elections halted for seven years. During that time, criticism has steadily mounted against Mai over his handling of local road-construction projects, including the infamous boondoggle over the rebuilding of Soi Siam Country Club.
The East Pattaya populace clearly had had enough of the delays, detours and excuses flowing from the Nongprue Subdistrict Office and, combined with the area’s economic collapse. Voters made quick work of ousting Mai and all his connected buddies from office as soon as they were given the opportunity.