PIERS FULLER / Stuff
Former defense minister Ron Mark is running for mayor of Carterton. (File photo)
Ron Mark had no intention of running for mayor of Carterton.
But with residents and taxpayers knocking on his door asking him to put his hat in the ring, he was more than happy to do so, becoming the only person to run against incumbent Mayor Greg Lang.
“I think I’m crazy,” he said on Sunday. “I thought I was done with politics.”
Mark is no stranger to Carterton District Council, having served as mayor from 2010 to 2014.
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He is also no stranger to politics, having spent almost 20 years as a NZ First MP (1996-2008 and 2014-2020).
He enjoyed success in his parliamentary career, becoming deputy leader of NZ First in 2015.
He was then appointed Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs in 2017, positions that matched his military career, which spanned nearly 20 years.
“Those were my dream wallets,” he said.
But the party’s vote dropped in the 2020 election and Mark lost his seat.
He has remained busy with board roles, assisting with humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and helping Carterton residents meet board challenges.
Mark said he knew how great Carterton had been in the past, how great he was today and what he could be in the future.
But he also knew how to take advantage of the “challenges that present themselves to us now”.
He had previously opposed super-city merger plans, but said the ground had changed since that proposal and Wairarapa councils were now likely to merge “whether by force or by chance”.
“Increasingly, some political parties are pushing for central control over everything, whether it’s stripping assets first or imposing more and more legislative requirements, that will happen.”
He said that with 2023 being the year of central government elections, it was the best time for the local government to make their demands known.
“People are worried about the affordability of fares, but I haven’t seen any action,” he said.
“I hear of seniors on fixed incomes who can’t afford the rates and worry about how this will affect the character of our neighborhood.
“Of course the rates have to go up, we know that, but rather than saying the grading system is broken, as has been said before, tell me what you have done to put pressure on the minister, to attract attention to the fact that the local government The law needs to be amended.
At the local level, if elected mayor, Mark said he would advocate for “better democracy”.
“We also need a high level of control over board operations so that we never again have the kind of project failures and cost explosions we have witnessed over the past three years. “
He said councilors needed to listen to residents and ratepayers who had taken the time to submit council plans, some of whom were retired and had a wealth of knowledge.
“They are not idiots. They give us the benefit of their experience. »
He said the council also needed to “steer away from vanity projects” and be pragmatic.
“If we are considering the merger, why are we considering building new offices for the council?
“We need better transparency, better democracy, an open ear to listen to problems, and rather than trying to bury them with lawyers, we need to fix them.”
When asked what personal qualities would make him a good mayor, Mark replied, “Kāore te kūmara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka – kūmara does not speak of its own gentleness.
“I think people know me. Some people like me, some don’t.
“The one thing I will always be is consistency. And I always tell the truth whether people want to hear it or not.