New Labour candidate Rachel Jones gets to work

By Sonya Bateson

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Rachel Jones
Rachel Jones

Tauranga's new Labour candidate will be beating the streets in an attempt to bring a higher presence into the staunchly conservative electorate.

Rachel Jones was appointed the Tauranga candidate at a party meeting on Saturday and will be relocating to the region in January from Cambridge.

Dr Jones is planning on starting the campaign trail early and will be spending the first few weeks in her new role door knocking, visiting local events and meeting non-government organisations.

"I want to connect with all the community groups and make Labour more visible," Dr Jones said. "If you're concerned about asset sales, poverty and slipping education standards then we want to hear from you.

"We're going to focus on connecting Labour's values and issues that matter to New Zealanders. It will be a challenge but we are prepared to fight the fight."

In her campaign to win the Tauranga seat from Simon Bridges, Dr Jones said she and her team would point out National's record with issues such as forestry deaths and off shore drilling.

"We want to communicate our message and let people make their own choice between National and Labour.

"Issues affecting Tauranga are national issues, children going to school hungry with one in four living in poverty, affordable housing. It's that growing gap between rich and poor. The Rena is definitely an issue. The Rena is an example of why we need to be really sure of the safety of offshore drilling before we let it happen."

Dr Jones is a researcher for a Finnish university and has a PhD in management communication and English literature.

She said she has no real home town as she moved all over the country while growing up and was ready to set down roots in Tauranga with her husband.

Although she was new to the political arena, Dr Jones said she would bring energy to the table and international experience.

"I've seen lots, the United States is a country very divided by rich and poor and I also spend a lot of time in Finland which is doing really well and is where I'd like New Zealand to be heading. I started off as a volunteer in the party a couple of years ago. Being a volunteer made me realise I had a skill set and experience that could contribute in a role as MP because I want to make societal changes."

Mr Bridges said having a selection of strong candidates for the Tauranga electorate was good for democracy. "There is always a considerable list of candidates for voters to choose from in Tauranga. I expect to see strong candidates from the Greens, NZ First, the Conservatives, and United Future, as well as a field of independents."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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