Carter begins bid to claim the mayoralty

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Former Northland MP John Carter announced yesterday that he will retire early from his position as New Zealand's High Commissioner in the Cook Islands to run for the contest the Far North mayoralty.

Mr Carter, who with his wife Leoni will return to Rarotonga today after a brief stay at their home at Waipapakauri Ramp, said he had kept a close watch on affairs in the Far North since he retired as the local MP in 2011, and was increasingly concerned by what he saw as disunity and a lack of progress.

"I love the Far North," he said.

"I am deeply aware of what a wonderful place it is and how many talented people live here, and I know it should be doing better. My many years representing the area have given me the knowledge, skills and contacts to provide unifying leadership, so, after careful consideration, I have decided to resign from my position as High Commissioner and offer myself for the mayoralty."

He had a number of ideas for boosting the district's economy and creating jobs, which he would release closer to the elections in October. For the moment he was focused on the two main themes of his campaign, namely uniting the district and developing the best local government structure for it to progress.

In the past the various sectors of the Northland community may have had differing points of view, and were not shy about expressing them, but they had always been able to work together for the betterment of the district and its people. That seemed to have been lost at local government level, and the Far North had suffered as a result.

"I have a long track record of being able to work in harmony with everyone in the North, regardless of where they live, what their politics are or where their interests lie, and with all the leaders of the different communities of interest, whatever their backgrounds," he said.

"I want to use my skills and experience to bring back that unity and harmony to ensure that all our strengths are combined in the best interests of the region.

"I always had an open door policy with my constituents; working to help them to resolve any issue they might have, regardless of their political persuasions. If chosen as Mayor I intend to bring that same people focus, that emphasis on representing the whole community, to the Far North District Council."

He would not be seeking a team of candidates; it was for the people of the Far North to decide who they wanted to represent them in each ward, but he was confident that he would able to work with whoever was elected.

He was also uniquely placed to ensure that the best local government structure was achieved, given his local authority and parliamentary experience, including his chairing of the select committee that considered submissions on the new local government structure for Auckland.

"I know the government's thinking on local government, and I can use that knowledge to the advantage of the Far North," Mr Carter added.

"I have a deep understanding of the present council structure and I can make it work for us all.

"I am aware there is concern that the Far North is not being heard in Wellington, and I can fix that without the need for drastic change. I am also aware of the strong desire on the part of the various geographical communities in the North to have a say in their own future, and I totally support that approach.

"There is no reason why we cannot balance the need for a unified district with the ability of different areas to follow policies that best serve the interests of their own people. As Mayor I would work closely with the community boards to make that possible."

His role as High Commissioner to the Cook Islands had been a wonderful learning opportunity, but he was even more excited by what he would be able to achieve as Far North Mayor.

"The potential to achieve great things is here. We all know that. All it requires is the right sort of leadership," he said.

- Northland Age

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