Carterton Mayor John Booth. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

Grandchildren to come first

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

Family has come first for Carterton Mayor John Booth who on Wednesday dropped an election bombshell by announcing his retirement.

Booth, who was unopposed in taking over from Ron Mark when he entered Parliament mid-term in 2014, won by more than 2200 votes from Mike Osborne in 2016, and would have been favourite to win again.

When councillor Greg Lang announced a tilt at the mayoralty in April, Booth said he welcomed the competition and indicated he would be standing.

But that had changed as a result of “numerous sleepless hours”.

“It’s been extremely difficult and emotional to make the decision.

“But I will be 67 in a month, and if I had stood, and if I was successful, I would be 70 when the next triennium finished.

“I have my health and an incredibly supportive family, which includes seven grandchildren, who I want to be spending more time with as they grow up.”

Booth’s retirement leaves the mayoralty field open, with three candidates declaring their interest to date – councillors Lang and Jill Greathead, and Ponatahi Christian School teacher Bernard Bottrill.

He is the only incumbent mayor in the region not standing again.

He said the mayoralty had grown into a role which demanded “a very large time commitment”.

“It’s changed quite dramatically from when I became mayor. It’s become a lot more intensive.

“A lot more is asked of our time, even outside of the community – there are lot of meetings we go to in Wellington,” he said.

“It could easily be a fulltime job if that’s what you wanted to make of it.”

Booth described his time as mayor as a “a total privilege and an amazing journey”.

He said he was most proud of way he connected with the community and supported people to start new business in Carterton.

He first came on to the council in 2010. The Carterton Events Centre was then being built, and opened in 2011.

“I’m really proud of where that events centre is now, and the wonderful facility it offers to not only the Carterton community but the wider Wairarapa community.”

He was also pleased with his efforts to make the Charles Rooking Carter awards a “really whizz-bang” event, now held biennially, and believed the wastewater treatment plant under construction could serve the community for 50 years.

He paid tribute to the staff at the council, but reserved a special thanks for wife, Julie.

“It’s really hard to say thank you enough for all her amazing support.”

He will not stand for council, but is starting to think about ideas for community work outside council, including in economic development.

Booth said he had been asked repeatedly what his plans were after saying two weeks ago he would be making an announcement.

“I was getting enormous support from people saying if I stood they would be backing me, but I’m not.

“It’s really important to have your health at this age, and be able to make the most of enjoying the young ones and doing things with them.”