Trio put hands up to represent National

By Mike Dinsdale

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Doctor Shane Reti is one of the men hoping to be National Party's Whangarei Electorate candidate.
Doctor Shane Reti is one of the men hoping to be National Party's Whangarei Electorate candidate.

The race to be the next National Party candidate for Whangarei is down to three men - National list MP Paul Foster-Bell, GP Shane Reti and businessman Adam Isa - wanting to replace Phil Heatley.

Mr Heatley is leaving politics at the next election after 15 years as Whangarei MP and when nominations closed for those seeking to replace him Mr Foster-Bell, Dr Reti and Mr Isa were the only three to have put their names forward.

National Party Whangarei Electorate chairman Murray Broadbelt said although the party would have liked more people to put their hands up, he was more than satisfied with the calibre of the three nominees.

"We are very happy with the three nominees who are very capable people," he said.

Whangarei-born Mr Foster-Bell, 36, was the first to announce his intention to seek the nomination in November, just days after Mr Heatley announced he would retire.

Mr Foster-Bell came into Parliament in May last year to replace the departing Jackie Blue as he was next on the National Party list after working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, mainly in the Middle East, for much of the past decade.

Mr Foster-Bell said if voted in, he will do his best to promote more jobs, infrastructure and public services for the region.

Dr Reti said he was offered incentives by Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School to stay and carry on his important medical work after six years there, but the calling to come home for good was too strong.

He believes his credentials, track record and connections to Whangarei will see him in good stead in the race to represent the district in the House. He worked in general practice in Whangarei for 17 years, and was a member of the Northland District Health Board for seven years, before being awarded a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard, in 2007. He has examined community health issues such as how to improve appointment rates at public hospitals, and once offered to fund a $70,000 survey on fluoride, out of his own pocket.

Dr Reti said he was to the right of centre in his political leanings, believing in strong fiscal responsibility, but also believing in a social safety net.

Mr Isa, the manager of Paper Plus in the town, said he is not a career politician, but a businessman who believes he can make a difference for the district and wider region.

Raised in Auckland, he attended Auckland Grammar School. At Auckland University, he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in international trade and international business, and a Masters of International Business.

"My qualifications are in strategic management and international trade and since we moved up from Auckland I have seen the untapped potential and opportunities up here. We need somebody representing this community in Parliament to take advantage of those opportunities, rather than them bypassing Whangarei and going elsewhere," Mr Isa said.

"I would lean towards the economic development area and trade and would focus on developing and growing Whangarei and the wider Northland region."

The successful candidate will be named on March 7 after a thorough selection process, Mr Broadbelt said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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