Would-be mayors adjust to life after campaign failure

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 03/01/2014
John Morrison
FAIRFAX NZ
John Morrison: "I ran [for council] to give people an alternative and it was pretty close. "

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Their faces smiled from placards, their pamphlets swamped your letterbox and their names were on election papers on every coffee table.

For weeks late last year, the mayoral candidates in Wellington dominated headlines, but two months after the votes were counted, where are the candidates who wanted to lead our fair city - and will they be giving up on politics?

Celia Wade-Brown won the race, claiming a second term and leaving her biggest rival, John Morrison, to pick up the pieces.

He did not return calls from The Dominion Post, but has started a new chapter by joining the board at CallActive, the call centre business whose presence he helped establish in Wellington.

He also continues to work for his promotions and sponsorship company.

Late last year, he told The Wellingtonian he gave the election "his best shot".

"I ran to give people a genuine alternative and it was pretty close."

He had allowed himself one week to be "cheesed off" and was now looking ahead to new challenges. "I just go on with my life. It's a relief to be off council. I was there 15 years and it's not a very constructive atmosphere. I feel good about some of the challenges ahead of me."

Mr Morrison is not the only candidate getting back to work.

Jack Yan, who came third in Wellington, said top of the agenda was "getting back to business - answering six months of emails".

"We have got great things happening in all the business really." His business interests include a magazine publishing company and the Miss Universe pageant.

He planned to continue working to promote Wellington overseas but said he might focus more on heralding his successes to help raise his profile for the next election.

He had noticed a lift in his profile since the election, especially compared to the post-2010 election period, where he had also contested the mayoralty. "I'm invited to more events now."

Mayoral contestant Nicola Young may not be at the head of the table, but after winning a councillor seat for the Lambton ward she's been busy learning the council ropes.

It had been a steep learning curve that led to a "few deep breaths of relief" that she wasn't in the mayor's job, she said.

"I have never worked so hard in my life, and I consider myself a hard worker . . .

"It's been far more full-on than I expected."

Reading and writing for a living had helped, given the vast amount of paperwork, she said.

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Karunanidhi Muthu has taken the post-election period to catch up with family. He had travelled overseas visiting family, and now had some here in New Zealand and was showing them the sights, he said.

However, he wasn't done with his political ambitions and was planning to move his law office to the eastern suburbs to gain exposure and become more involved in the community.

He hoped that he had achieved his goal of encouraging ethnic minorities to get involved in local politics, and would definitely consider standing again in three years. "I will actually start earlier and I will be focused on the constituents that I need to win over to become mayor or a councillor," he said.

Rob Goulden said he was done with local body politics and had become disillusioned during the election campaign last year.

"A lot of people think the election campaign was very, very unfair this year [2013] . . . that's reflected in the result."

He had continued working as a security orderly at Wellington Hospital through most of the campaign, which he was still doing. He was still contemplating his options for 2014, which included a change in career, starting his own business, or even taking a tilt at national politics.

But Wellington's candidates weren't the only ones left to deal with disappointment.

Two-term Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan is looking forward to returning to the workforce after she was beaten soundly in the October election. She came third with 4543 votes, behind Ross Church, who took out the race with 7933 votes, and K Gurunathan on 6779.

"I hadn't expected the landslide swing that happened," she said.

However, she hadn't dwelt on the loss, describing it as "just politics".

Instead, she had taken a break after the election and was now excited to be starting a new job in disputes resolution in February.

"I'm very pleased and relieved to be able to take a rest and find another very excellent job."

She doubted she would ever return to local politics as, at 64-years-old, she felt she was getting too old for the game."It's very different to how it used to be . . . you need to be, probably, a bit younger than me."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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