Mayoral candidate Pete Rainey at his campaign launch in the car park outside his office on Saturday. Photo: Kate Russell.

‘I want to be mayor’

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The contrast was stark.

Rachel Reese launched her mayoral campaign in the waterfront’s historic Boat Shed, speaking to an audience of business leaders, Southern Link backers and other supporters. Most of the full house was dressed smart, sipping on drinks and nibbling on finger food.

Pete Rainey launched his mayoral campaign in a car park, speaking to supporters that included union leaders carrying balloons, community leaders wearing “Vote Rainey” badges and a healthy dose of obedient dogs on leads.

Of course there were exceptions. Some artists and grassroots community leaders were at Rachel’s launch and some businesspeople were at Pete’s.

But overall, the two launches were like the candidates: chalk and cheese.

Mayor Rachel Reese at her campaign launch at the Boat Shed earlier this month. Photo: Andrew Board.
Mayor Rachel Reese at her campaign launch at the Boat Shed earlier this month. Photo: Andrew Board.

Rachel, the current mayor, touted her experience, her leadership and the region’s booming economy. Pete, a three-term councillor, spoke of frustration and opportunities that have not been seized upon.

Interestingly, both used the word “anomaly” to describe Nelson for its ability to grow at a rate that dwarfs other regional centres, and how attracting young people and families was important to the region. Both also touched on the need to warm Nelson homes and the usual things like supporting sport, the arts, families and giving a shout out to the vote-rich suburb of Stoke.

That’s about where they split.

Pete spoke of a desire to introduce a “living wage” for council employees and contractors that the council employs. He spoke of coming up with solutions to solve the current traffic congestion by working with our current network.

On the Stoke Community Centre, he has previously said he would like to see the project scaled down, and redeveloped in order to  build new rooms for Stoke rugby, tennis and cricket, with the resulting savings being put towards improving the Stoke Memorial Hall.

Rachel said the Southern Link needs to be built to add a third arterial road to the city and free up Nelson’s “clogging arteries”.

She supports the Stoke Community Centre progressing as it is and spoke about how the council needed to remove rules, fees and charges that limit innovate thinking and new development for businesses.

Pete told supporters he wasn’t just an “artsy guy” but was a successful businessman who would make Nelson zing.

Rachel told supporters she was delivered a hospital pass, turned it around and has delivered on key projects in her first term as mayor. She says she can do a lot more over the next three years.

Unlike the previous two local body elections, the field is relatively clear. Rachel and Pete are the clear front runners and they sit at polar opposites on many issues.

Of the other two candidates for mayor, Graeme O’Brien is using the higher profile of a mayoral candidate to further his cause for election as a councillor and Richard Osmaston is using the election as a platform to further the views of the Free Money Party.

This election is really between two, and at least there is a clear difference.