Property developer John Davis to run for Marlborough mayoralty

Blenheim businessman John Davis is running for mayor.
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Blenheim businessman John Davis is running for mayor.

A mock up of John Davis' election poster depicts a black and white picture of a barbed wire fence, with the tagline 'no fence sitting'.

The 71-year-old, affectionately known as The Colonel, said he wanted something simple and no-nonsense for his bid for the Marlborough mayoralty.

"It suits me. I'm black and white and true to myself."

Davis will be pitted against former Kaikoura MP Colin King, and Blenheim councillors Brian Dawson and John Leggett in the race for mayor.

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The property developer said he had been asked to run at nearly every election. But it was a group of eight Blenheim businesses that urged him to "put the passion back into Marlborough with vision".

"There is too much bureaucracy and not enough vision at council.

"If I am elected mayor it will be very hard to get a photo of me in the paper," he said. "I'll have my head down working on things that are important."

His priorities were ensuring Marlborough's townships got clean drinking water, working with primary industry to grow Marlborough, uniting council and youth development. 

In a move against the political grain, Davis said he was not making election promises.

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"Too many people in politics make promises then never keep them.

"I'm about people first. I respect this community, I love it. I believe in doing what's right. If you can't put your heart and soul into it, it's not right. Be courageous.

"I can't work in murk. We have to have a passionate vision of where we are going. At the moment there are too many arguments and disputes out in the public because council's direction is not clear."

The council would not achieve anything if it continued to have councillors on "A and B teams", he said. If elected mayor he would work on a mandate to unite councillors, he said.

Marlborough needed a housing plan to deal with more workers in the wine industry and the new combined Marlborough Boys' and Marlborough Girls' colleges should go on a greenfield site, he said.

"The major issues with the combined colleges requires close scrutiny regarding liquefaction and ease of access for all students in Marlborough. We have to make sure this information is well sourced, as to date no-one is sharing much."

A $2 million upgrade to Blenheim's town centre was a "band aid", he said.

The council should be actively head hunting businesses to move to town and he would work with national retailers to find how to make the best of Blenheim, he said.

Davis would rather see "four internet cafes" over a $23m new library.

And he had strong views about council's involvement in property development. 

"Council can't be the regulator and dictator. Everyone has to be on a level playing field."

Davis was known in Marlborough as 'the Colonel' because he was named after two World War II commanders, he said.

Davis was chairman of the Marlborough Softball Association for 10 years, and coached softball and swimming.

"I've been a leader all my life in every project I have done."

He lead Operation Undercover, which despite drawing criticism from the elderly population about its cost, brought an indoor heated pool to Blenheim replacing the freezing outdoor pool. 

But it was his role in real estate, in particular building up Harcourts Marlborough, that he was best known for.

Davis' Omaka Landings subdivision on New Renwick Rd faced court battles and delays. 

But he was not running for mayor in retaliation to the council's handling of the subdivision, Davis said.

"It was $4m of wasted time, energy and stress because a small group of people inside and outside council objected, that I promise no other group will ever face again."

 - The Marlborough Express

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