Mike Ward has announced his fifth bid for the Nelson mayoralty, in the upcoming October election. Photo: Kate Russell.

Mike for mayor?


He’s 76-years-old, a great-grandfather and a seasoned Nelson City councillor – now he wants to be mayor.

Mike Ward has announced his fifth bid for the mayoralty in the upcoming October election, saying the time has come when he could make a difference.

“This is one very gorgeous little city. Lots of great things have already happened here and wanting to make this place more gorgeous, safer, healthier and inclusive is not a bad aspiration.”

The artist and author is no stranger to the mayoral campaign, having stood for the role four times already, in 1986, 1989, 2007 and 2010, coming a close second in 1989 and fourth in 2007.

He’s also done six terms on council spanning from 1983 to 2016 and says he’s always left the door open to return.

“I look around the world and I see some people much older than me making a difference. And if you can make a difference, I think you have an obligation to do that.”

He says he’s pleased to hear that council is taking climate change seriously, with its recent declaration of a climate emergency.

“That’s a good start and I’d like to be part of that. It’s something I’ve cared about for a very long time. It’s not just about being mayor, it’s about changing the conversation.”

Mike has also had a career in national politics and was elected in the 2002 general election at number nine on the Green Party list. When he was in Parliament, he was the Green Party spokesperson on Arts and Culture, Older Persons, Small Business, Sports, Fitness and Leisure, Tourism and Waste-free.

In 2005 he won the World of Wearable Art supreme award and is the only person to have completed all the first 28 Coast to Coast races.

“Do I have the energy levels that I once had? I don’t Coast to Coast anymore, but I run, produce a piece of wearable art each year and drag my gear down to the market every Saturday morning. So, I think I have the energy to be a mayor,” he says.

He’d like to see a grandparent-friendly playground built in Rutherford Park as well as playground in the central city.

“I’d like a less risk-adverse council. We need a plan that talks about what we want and what our aspirations are.”