Mayor throws hat into ring

By Nathan Crombie news@hbtoday co nz

1 comment
Ron Mark has his eye on national politics.
Ron Mark has his eye on national politics.

Carterton mayor Ron Mark is standing as the Wairarapa candidate for New Zealand First.

Mr Mark, who was a list MP from 1996 until NZ First was ousted from Parliament in 2008, yesterday said he had decided alongside fiancee Christine Tracey on making another run for Parliament after numerous requests he return to the party political fold.

"I was asked at the last election and a lot of local people over time have made it known they'd really like me to go back. Even at the higher level in the party they've always expressed an interest in having me return."

He refused to comment on a draft report quoted by a Wellington newspaper that ranked him at No9 on the NZ First list.

He had not seen the report and was unaware of his ranking, he said, and any consequent chances of his making Parliament as a list MP. Mr Mark spurned suggestions he may be in line to take over from party leader Winston Peters, saying he "learned a long time ago that as soon as an MP starts prattling on about becoming the leader, nine times out of 10 they get their throat cut from behind".

"For me the objective is to win the confidence of the people of Wairarapa, win the seat and become the MP for Wairarapa and do the best job I can, and we'll take it from there.

"I'd like people to judge me on my merits, what I've done in the past and what they think I'm capable of, quite aside and apart from my political colour," he said.

"I have a lot of people saying I really need to get back in to Parliament and fight for the Wairarapa from inside and that's the conclusion I've come to. I got some skills and across the parties, across the House, I have a degree of respect. It's about time I put that to use for the Wairarapa.

"And why not, I was born here, bred here, raised here. This is my home. Why wouldn't I want to represent it?"

Mr Mark said he will stand down from the Carterton mayoralty should he win a seat in Parliament, he said, despite legislation that allowed him to work both roles at the same time.

"This is a far nicer environment to work in. I love the fact we have a council made up of people who are not driven by party politics, they are driven by the issues that affect their people. I actually love that. There's a downside of going back in to Parliament. There's a high personal price to pay.

"But I can't be whingeing and whining about things that have happened to the Wairarapa that have not been good for it if I'm not prepared to put myself forward and fight against them."

Mr Mark said he had gained considerable community and civic experience during his four years on council, work with two district health boards, as a businessman, and as a lead Treaty negotiator for Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.

He had also spent two decades in the military and 12 years in Parliament and "hoped people will judge me on my track record".

"I bring a degree of strength and I'm respected by other parties in the House. I'd like to think people will see the value in my career and experience and that I'm the sort of person they want representing the Wairarapa."

NZ First communications advisor Judith Hughey said NZ First's party list was set to be released on Tuesday, the deadline for political parties.

When asked about a draft list that purported to have Ron Mark at No9, she said "there's a lot of gossip going around".

"No-one has seen the list. No-one seems to know."

Alastair Scott, National Party candidate for Wairarapa, said voting for Mr Mark was a "wasted vote". "There might be a few. Everyone knows the party vote is the only one that matters. Really, voting for Ron Mark as an electorate vote is a wasted vote."

Labour Party candidate for Wairarapa, Kieran McAnulty, welcomed Mr Mark to the hustings.

"This is great news for our campaign. In a three-horse race I have an even better chance of winning," he said.

"Mr Mark will take more votes off Mr Scott than he will from me, which blows the race wide open. The last time there were two right-wing candidates in Wairarapa we ended up with a Labour MP."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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