The heat has been turned up for October's council elections with Helen Craig announcing yesterday that she will stand for the Whanganui mayoralty.

A first-term councillor, Ms Craig will go up against the other declared candidate, deputy mayor Hamish McDouall, for the top job.

Current mayor Annette Main announced in December that she would step down after six years, and endorsed Mr McDouall's bid.

Mr McDouall has stood as Labour Party candidate for the Whanganui electorate for the past three general elections, while Ms Craig is an active National Party member, so the local body election now takes on a hint of national politics.


Though only elected to Whanganui District Council in 2013, Ms Craig has been busy, working with the arts community and getting involved in the Whanganui city centre regeneration, as well as fronting each month at the River Traders market with colleague Martin Visser.

Yesterday, she said her election platform would be based around jobs and economic growth.

"I'm running for mayor because it is time for council to be the leader it must be," she said.

Her vision is for Whanganui to be "the stand-out heritage town of New Zealand, with regionally significant sporting and cultural facilities, attracting visitors and residents in an innovative, thriving rural and business community".

She said none of that was difficult to achieve "if we focus on job growth and attracting residents".

The council needed to be the number one business in the district.

"Professional performance standards, a business-friendly attitude and a drive to bring jobs must be the focus. It's time for radical change at council."

She said that, despite her limited time in the council chamber, she had learned plenty and was already "making a real difference in the community".

"As the biggest influencer on our economy and future of our district, the mayor must be an enabler, creating effective community partners, promoter of the district and developing the best business in town."

Ms Craig said Whanganui businesses needed a champion on a national stage, while - as mayor - she would set the tone for service delivery from council.

Ms Craig's professional career includes many years in the insurance industry in New Zealand and Singapore.

She has a fine arts degree from Whanganui UCOL and was initiator of the Real Whanganui Festival during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Other roles have been with Artists Open Studios and the Glass Festival, and launching and publishing the Awa Events Guide.

Ms Craig is also a trustee of the Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust Board, a Chamber of Commerce member, Rotarian, and a qualified Resource Management Act commissioner.