Wilkes focused 'on the people'

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2013
Chris Wilkes
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
GRASS ROOTES CANDIDATE: Chris Wilkes believes is seeking to ensure Taranaki receives its fair share of central funding, should he be elected Mayor of the New Plymouth district.

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The contest for the New Plymouth mayoralty yesterday became a three-way race after district council candidate Chris Wilkes announced he will also run for mayor.

He joins two-term councillor Andrew Judd as the only candidates so far to challenge incumbent Harry Duynhoven for the chains of office.

"As a councillor you are marginalised by the vote, as we have seen well intended councillors being out-voted consistently. While you still have influence as a councillor, to affect behaviour of the council you need a leadership change," he said.

At 34, Mr Wilkes is a relatively young candidate, though David Lean was 32 when he started his first of four terms as New Plymouth mayor in 1980.

"It means I have longevity and I have perspective. I see it as a real opportunity to get the change council needs. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think I had what the district needs. If I am elected mayor this place will be much better off," Mr Wilkes said.

His mayoral bid will be run in conjunction with his campaign for council. He has not yet lodged either nomination and neither has anyone else, despite nominations opening on Friday.

The former Inglewood High School pupil said he would campaign to ensure Taranaki received a share of central government funding proportionate to its contribution to GDP. He would also undertake more public consultation and "empower" communities to make their own decisions as well as balance economic progress with environmental sustainability.

His policies would be made public on his website, votewilkes.com, within a fortnight.

"It's about time we had a grass roots mayor instead of a businessman. As much as there is a business element to council it should be about the place and I will be focused on the people," he said.

An invalid beneficiary, Mr Wilkes underwent a kidney transplant in September after four years living with nephrotic syndrome, the kidney disorder that ended Jonah Lomu's career.

A keen environmentalist, he campaigns against the use of 1080 poison and seabed mining.

Last month he was elected to the board of the Taranaki Youth Health Trust, better known as Waves, and he announced in May he would stand for council.

Mr Judd, the first contender, announced his candidacy in April. Mayoral nominations do not close until August 16.

Three years ago Mr Duynhoven won the mayoralty with 10,011 votes ahead of second placed Pauline Lockett, who secured 8354.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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