Sunderland University lecturer Simon Henig is the leader of the new Durham unitary authority, providing services previously offered by eight councils.
“It’s a new era for County Durham and I look forward to the challenges ahead,” he said.
The 40-year-old Labour councillor is following in a family tradition as his father Stanley was MP for Lancaster and his mother Ruth sits in the Lords. His late grandfather Sir Mark Henig was Lord Mayor of Leicester and the first chairman of the English Tourist Board.
Originally elected in his home town of Chester-le-Street in 1999, his political rise has been such that “when Tony Blair stood down in Sedgefield two years ago, my name went forward to replace him. Unfortunately I was runner-up.”
A Newcastle Reform Synagogue congregant, his wife Katherine is studying for a Masters in public administration through the Open University.