It’s hard to believe that this election campaign is nearly over. My team and I have been working hard for months. We’ve visited every town and village in the electorate, knocked on doors, held street corner meetings, attended festivals and markets, done our best to connect with voters all the way from Taumarunui to Himatangi Beach, from Raetihi to Shannon, and all the places in between.
The street corner meetings have been great fun. Because there are only a few of us working in Rangitīkei (this is a traditional blue electorate after all), I took on most of the work for street corner meetings myself. That means that I’ve walked for three or four kilometres delivering flyers announcing each meeting, and then turned up the next day to actually hold the meeting. Easy enough to do in the southern end of the electorate where the towns are all in a radius of 40 or 50km or so, but a bit more challenging when it came to Taihape, and especially so holding meetings in Ohakune, Raetihi and Taumarunui. But we did it! We even held meetings in tiny places, like Pohangina and Kimbolton, and people turned up to talk and listen.
We had two visits from the big red Labour bus, one in Feilding, and one in Taumarunui. Great fun in Feilding, and a blast in Taumarunui, where the local Young Labour people came along to help, alongside our three most senior members there, who are all in their eighties.
Along with my team, I’ve delivered flyers in Ashhurst and Marton and Bulls and Feilding and Taihape and Summerhill. Because everyone else has been holding down jobs as well as campaigning (I’m on unpaid leave), I covered every street in Taumarunui myself, delivering leaflets, and talking to so many people as I went.
I’ve been working hard for Rangitīkei, and #forabetterNZ. That’s the kind of hard work and energy and commitment I will bring to being Rangitīkei’s MP.
I’ve made some great friends during the campaign, and met so many impressive people who are working hard for their communities. I’m thinking of people like my lovely cousin Leonie Cadman in Raetihi, and Raewyn West in Taumarunui, and Cath Ash who runs Project Marton, and Dr Dave Baldwin of the Flying Doctor Service in Bulls. I’ve been so pleased to connect with and form a real friendship with a former student of mine who lives in Taumarunui. Anna, it’s so good to be friends with you, and to have met your friends and your family – all lovely people, even if some of them have very different political views to me (I’m thinking of Anna’s father who once stood for ACT).
I think that I have connected well with all sorts of people in the electorate, from wage workers and beneficiaries to farmers and business people, that I am approachable and friendly, as willing to prop up a table in the pub at Ashhurst, or in the Cossie Club in Taumarunui, as I am to talk with senior business people and academics in very formal settings.
It’s a great part of the country, and I want to turn my commitment and energy, and all the skills I have in business and in government, and my particular skills in taxation and policy, to working for people in Rangitīkei and in New Zealand, as a Member of Parliament.
So if you’re in Rangitīkei, then on September 20 I’m asking you to vote Russell for Rangitīkei, and give your party vote to Labour.