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Mark makes 11th hour bid



Ron Mark didn’t plan to run for Carterton’s mayoralty.

But with residents and ratepayers knocking on his door asking him to put his hat in the ring, he was more than happy to do so, becoming the only person running against incumbent mayor Greg Lang.

“I think I’m insane,” he said yesterday, “I thought I was done with politics.”

Mark is no stranger to Carterton District Council, having served as mayor from 2010 to 2014.

He’s also no stranger to politics, having spent almost 20 years as a Member of Parliament for New Zealand First [1996-2008 and 2014-2020].

He found success in his parliamentary career, becoming New Zealand First’s deputy leader in 2015.

He was later appointed Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs in 2017, positions that were fit for his military career, which spanned nearly 20 years.

But the party vote dropped in the 2020 election, and Mark lost his seat.

He has remained busy with board roles, helping with humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, and assisting Carterton residents with council challenges.

Mark said he knew how to make opportunities out of the challenges facing local government.

He had previously opposed supercity amalgamation plans, but said the ground had shifted since that proposal, and Wairarapa councils were now likely to amalgamate “whether by force or happenstance”.

He said with 2023 being central government election year, it was the best time for local government to make its demands known.

“Sure, rates have to go up, we know that, but rather than say the rating system is broken, like has been said previously, tell me what you have done to lobby the minister, to bring attention to the fact that the Local Government Act needs amending.”

Mark said he “wouldn’t be shy” to use election year to Carterton’s advantage.

At a local level, if elected mayor, Mark said he would advocate for “better democracy”.

“We also need a high level of scrutiny of council operations so that we never again have failed projects and cost blowouts of the nature we have witnessed in the past three years.”

He said councillors needed to listen to residents and ratepayers who had taken time to submit to council plans, some of whom were retired and had a wealth of knowledge.

“They’re not idiots. They are giving us the benefit of their experience.”

He said the council also needed to “get away from vanity projects” and be pragmatic.

“If we are staring down the barrel of amalgamation, why are we looking at building new council offices?”

When asked what personal attributes would make him a good mayor, Mark said: “Kāore te kūmara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka – the kūmara doesn’t speak of its own sweetness”.

“I think people know me. Some people like me, some people don’t.

“The one thing I’ll always be is consistent. And I always tell the truth whether people want to hear it or not.”

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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