North Yorkshire Conservatives have selected Councillor Keane Duncan as their candidate to be the first York and North Yorkshire mayor.
Cllr Duncan, who represents the Norton division on North Yorkshire Council, beat Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe and tech entrepreneur Matthew Freckelton to represent the Tories at the election in May.
An elected mayor is set to lead a regional combined authority for more than 800,000 people, covering both North Yorkshire and York, from next May.
The mayor will make key decisions alongside two councillors, from both North Yorkshire and York councils. The combined authority have an additional £18m a year of funding from Government through a mayor’s investment fund.
The role will take on the powers of police and crime commissioner.
I’m officially the @Conservatives candidate, campaigning to become the first Mayor of York and North Yorkshire. I could not be prouder. This is my home and I’ll be fighting every day to deliver results 💪 pic.twitter.com/TOfP3yMn3S
— Keane Duncan (@keane_duncan) July 14, 2023
Some Conservatives remain privately confident that whoever they select they are likely to be voted in to lead the authority, owing to the electorate of traditional Tory stronghold North Yorkshire outnumbering York’s voters, who have tended to vote more for Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, by three to one.
However, other Tories are sounding caution against complacency in the party and say the mayoral poll next May could be a close call, especially if it is treated like a by-election by voters to knock the Government ahead of an expected General Election in October 2024.
Senior party figures are concerned that by the time of the mayoral election next year, voting may reflect the patterns of that in 1997 when New Labour swept to power in Westminster, and there was just a four-point gap between Labour and the Tories across the North Yorkshire and York area.
Cllr Duncan, 28, is the executive member for highways, on North Yorkshire Council as well as deputy news editor for the Daily Star.