Mark will quit as mayor if elected to Parliament

CALEB HARRIS AND AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 05:00 20/08/2014
Ron Mark
BACK IN THE FOLD: Ron Mark is returning to New Zealand First.

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Former MP Ron Mark will run for NZ First in the Wairarapa electorate and says he will likely step aside as Carterton mayor if he wins.

Confirming yesterday that he would stand for his old party, Mark indicated he would stand down as mayor if successful, and that his successor could be Gladstone farmer and current deputy mayor John Booth.

"I have absolute, total confidence in my deputy mayor to fill my shoes for any reason."

Mark was a list MP from 1996 until NZ First failed to retain any seats in Parliament in the 2008 election. He was elected mayor of Carterton in 2010, and retained the position unopposed last year.

It is understood a draft copy of the NZ First party list, determined by its selection committee during the weekend, ranks Mark at No 9, and has dropped MP Andrew Williams to a seemingly unelectable position, at 13.

Williams was ranked No 3 on the list in the 2011 election.

NZ First would need to get more than 10 per cent of the vote on election night for Williams to return to Parliament. The latest Stuff/Ipsos poll had the party on 3.4 per cent.

Mark declined to comment on the list until he had seen it.

"Anyway I'm not particularly interested in the list, I want to represent the Wairarapa."

He will be up against National's Alastair Scott and Labour's Kieran McAnulty.

Mark, 60, said that, if elected, he would probably be unable to continue leading his Ngati Kahungunu iwi's Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations, but its cause could be helped if he was in Parliament.

He believed the same applied to his membership of Hutt Valley and Wairarapa district health boards.

He had loved his time in local government but was persuaded to run for Parliament by friends. "Friends have said to me, we need you in Parliament, Ron, stop mucking around and get back there."

He would campaign on issues such as road funding, local government reform and economic development.

"It's the continued focus on metropolitan New Zealand to the exclusion of regional New Zealand - I can't fight those battles as Carterton mayor."

He would not be drawn on any leadership ambitions.

"I'm not even going to go there . . . other people will judge you on how you perform."

Williams said his list ranking came as "a bolt out of the blue", and was attributable to internal party politics. Getting back into Parliament after the election was not out of the question, he said, as NZ First had had 17 MPs in the past.

NZ First leader Winston Peters would not comment on the candidate rankings, saying the process was confidential, but said the release of the list was imminent.

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- The Dominion Post

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