General manager Andy Jarden is leaving the Wanganui Chronicle to spend the next four months campaigning hard to become the district's mayor.

He finishes his time at the newspaper today, and said he decided to stand for mayor a month ago.

It was not the first time he has thought about it, though - six years ago his late wife Marie encouraged him to stand and he intends to do her proud.

He did not want to leave the newspaper business then but is ready to now. His employer, NZME, is going through major changes, and operations in Whanganui are increasingly being run from Auckland.


His job was gone, and he was encouraged to stay and apply for other roles but decided to take voluntary redundancy.

The thrust of Mr Jarden's campaign will be affordability - he said Whanganui needed growth and jobs, and its rates had increased at three times the rate of inflation.

"We need people with business and financial acumen, combined with a real vision to grow Whanganui. This means providing appropriate infrastructure, business environment, and incentives to attract new business and jobs."

The current council had poor financial controls and had taken its eye off business, he said. The downsizing of Cavalier Spinners was one example.

"Cavalier laid off eight people almost a year ago - anyone with their eyes half open would know they were in trouble."

If the council had been speaking to them, all the company's jobs could have been consolidated in Whanganui, he said.

"These are the sort of things where the council has been failing business."

The city's image had improved under the current council, but more needed to be done to make it attractive to families.

The handling of the wastewater treatment system problem had been "disgraceful", he said.

"My own view is that clearly there were design faults, but there's also been reports that council staff didn't operate the treatment plant correctly. But how would we know? We're four years on and there has been no internal inquiry - that's disgraceful and would never happen in private business."

Mr Jarden has been a resident, a businessman and a part-time farmer in Whanganui for 29 years. He considers he is well qualified to represent people from all those fields, and has been encouraged to stand, especially by business people.

He needed to raise his profile, though, because the competition was strong.

"I'm probably not the favoured candidate right now."

But he said councillors Hamish McDouall and Helen Craig both had links to political parties, and he was an independent. He's leased out his 40-ha farm until October and intends to give the campaign his all for the next four-and-a-half months - newspaper and radio advertising, pamphlets, door-knocking and signwriting on his silver Cadillac.

Leaving the Chronicle was sad, but he said he was leaving it in a good state, as Richie McCaw had left the All Blacks.

"I support the changes - they are all positive. I'm leaving at a time when things are going really well.

"The Chronicle's circulation and readership are holding up well and our website is number one in Whanganui.

"I'm confident the Chronicle will still be around in another 150 years - but it won't be printed on paper."

NZME Local Network manager Chris Jagusch said Mr Jarden had been a fantastic manager for the business in all respects over the past 30 years.

"We are very proud of his achievements," Mr Jagusch said. "His aspirations for the Whanganui mayoralty were made known to us some time ago, and we are pleased for Andy that he is able to take up this opportunity."