A Napier man who still works occasionally in the orchards at the age of 76 will become the first independent general election candidate in Napier in more than 20 years.
While nominations don't open until Monday, John Smith, a former legal executive and senior officer of the Public Trust, becomes the sixth candidate announced to contest the seat being defended by Labour MP and Minister of Police Stuart Nash.
He will be the first Independent candidate in Napier since trade union man Laurance McGregor was one of nine candidates in 1999, the last election of now late long-term Labour MP Geoff Braybrooke.
While having a political career dating back more than 40 years, to a stint as Dominion secretary of the NZ Social Credit Political League in 1977-1978, his experience as a candidate dates back only to last year when he ran a dual campaign for seats on the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.
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McGregor, who does not know Smith but who, ironically, lives within a few hundred metres of the new candidate in Onekawa, says he stood in what was only the second MMP election to show people that anyone could stand for a seat in Parliament.
"People think they've got to be famous," McGregor said. "They can be famous but it doesn't mean they know everything. A lot of them don't."
"I knew I was never going to win," he confessed.
It's different for Smith, who, revealing a concern for being held to party constraints if he were elected as a party campaigner or representative, says: "I'm bloody serious. "I'm looking forward to it."
He estimates a campaign could cost him $2000, including the $300 fee.
He doesn't balk at the stress of a campaign, saying, as he's told fellow workers when they ask in the orchards: "I'm as fit as a fiddle. Don't interrupt my training."
Nominations close on August 21, with the election to be decided on September 19.