'Growing gap' leads McGurk to stand for mayor

OUT OF THE BLUE:  Brian McGurk outside Civic House. The Nelson police inspector has announced that he is seeking the Nelson mayoralty.
OUT OF THE BLUE: Brian McGurk outside Civic House. The Nelson police inspector has announced that he is seeking the Nelson mayoralty.

Senior Nelson police commander Inspector Brian McGurk has announced that he will stand for the Nelson mayoralty.

Mr McGurk said the "growing gap" he saw between the Nelson City Council and the community was one of the factors driving his decision.

"That gulf has to be bridged in order for Nelsonians to have a prosperous future."

He said he had thought about standing for some time, and believed the time was right.

Nelson needed a new leader, he said.

"If you think the current guy is doing OK, let him go. But at the moment, I think there needs to be change."

He said one of his strengths was a long history of working with Nelson's diverse communities.

"What I see from the current council leadership is a real lack of engagement with those communities. I strongly believe that has to change, and I believe I have the skills and experience to lead that change."

Mr McGurk, 54, has been a police officer for nearly 35 years, and was the Nelson Bays area commander for eight years. He was responsible for policing in the Nelson region in that role.

He said he did not see his lack of business experience as a weakness. As area commander, he was responsible for running for a large, complex organisation in a financially responsible way.

"I know and understand the principles of good governance."

Mr McGurk recently served in Afghanistan as leader of a European Union Police Mission in Bamiyan province, leading an international delegation of 13 police officers and lawyers to train, advise and mentor senior police and justice officials.

"To say our working environment there was hostile would be an understatement. Our key role was to work alongside local officials and groups in the community."

He said he was proud of the achievements made during his work in Afghanistan, which had given him a renewed appreciation of Nelson and energy for driving change in the region.

Mr McGurk said he planned to officially launch his campaign for the mayoralty in late June or July, and would announce details of his policies then.

He wanted prudent management of the council, transparency in decision making, and a focus on economic development. Protection of Nelson's physical environment and cultural heritage would also be priorities.

He did not want to give his views on hot button issues like a possible amalgamation with Tasman district until he started campaigning.

A Richmond resident, Mr McGurk said he did not think this was a disadvantage to standing for the Nelson mayoralty.

"I think of Nelson as a region. I'm a Nelsonian."

Mr McGurk said he had a campaign team behind him, but would not say who they were.

If he was elected, he would retire from the police, he said.

He also intends to stand for a seat on the council, but said his focus was on the mayoralty.

The Nelson Mail