Rainey: I want to bring heart to the mayoralty

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Three-term Nelson City councillor Pete Rainey has put his hand up for this year’s mayoralty bid and says he’s got the passion, skills and the heart to take over from Rachel Reese. Born and bred in Nelson, the 56-year-old father of two is the former head of music at Nelson College for Girls, and has also been running the Smokefreerockquest for 28 years. He’s also passionate about boating, and has reignited his love for motorcycles. Nelson Weekly reporter Kate Russell asked him where he stands on a number of Nelson’s issues.

Kate Russell: What made you decide to run for mayor?

Pete Rainey: Like many people reading this, my family, my business and my future are here in Nelson. I grew up here and I’m committed to this place. I’m running for mayor because I believe we can make Nelson the best place in New Zealand to live. I’ve been on council for nine years, and fundamentally got to a point where I decided that I didn’t want to continue on council under the same regime. It’s not my style of leadership and it’s certainly not the way I think things should be going so I’m going for the mayoralty and not running for council.

KR: What attributes could you bring to the role and what do you stand for?

PR: I’ve been community focussed for a long time and really do understand this city. I’m an enthusiast – my ability is to be able to draw people together and to galvanise people behind projects. I fundamentally understand council, I understand the role of mayor and I understand the issues in terms of the distinct differentiation between governance and management, and I think the city does need a firmer grasp on governance. Nelson has a broad reputation that is not necessarily backed up by substance, and I want to work hard to put some real substance behind the lifestyle that attracts people to live here.

KR: What projects are you keen to see go ahead?

PR: There are projects that have been planned for some time that have stalled. One that is really crucial is the Rocks Rd cycleway/walkway. There’s absolutely no reason why it couldn’t have gone ahead three years ago. However, it’s been bundled together with consideration of the Southern Link, and that’s parked it. Regardless of the Southern Link, it should be built. Linking with that is the Haven Precinct project, which I initiated more than five years ago. The cycleway between the Haven Precinct and the Trafalgar Centre needs to be completed. The whole connection from the city to the sea will be hugely transformative, especially with the real growth that we are seeing in cycle tourism. I’m determined to make sure that when cycle tourists get off the plane and hop on their bikes that they turn left and come into Nelson City, rather than go straight out to Tasman. I also want to see the Trafalgar Centre work as hard as it can to get some return for the huge investment, with a wide range of activities, sporting and cultural, spread throughout the year. I’m also passionate about developing strong strategies in our social sector, including youth. In the next long term planning round we need to get a strong grasp on the issues surrounding the growing percentage of older people in Nelson.

KR: Where do you stand on the Southern Link?

PR: I’m asking for a referendum so the people of Nelson can, for the first time, be given the opportunity to state what they want. We’re in a process at the moment with NZTA to determine some solutions. I am waiting to see the outcome of that process. The decision is not one for the mayor alone, I will support whatever decision is made by an informed vote by the ratepayers. We do have congestion at certain times of the day. I’m on the record as stating it’s sensible to look at things that are going to relieve the city of congestion.

KR: Final words?

PR: I’m looking forward to bringing a bit of heart to the mayoralty and hopefully a bit of fun. Councillors work together all the time, most people don’t see that. Very few Nelsonians come and sit through meetings. If they did, they would realise that we get on really pretty well and work together on a whole range of issues. However, I do feel there is an ability to bring a team together more successfully than at present, to be more inclusive and to be even more productive than we currently are. I would like to lead that team for the benefit of everyone who calls Nelson home.