Originally published on Stuff.co.nz
Carolyn O'Fallon knows she has a challenge ahead of her.
The Canadian-born 56-year-old is the National Party candidate for Rimutaka, a seat held by Labour's Chris Hipkins for three terms, since 2008.
"I'll be working hard to get known in the electorate but the main focus is to have a National-led government.
"The party vote is paramount, without that you're not in government and I want to contribute with how we go there," she said.
This will include old-fashioned door knocking. "That is important and we'll be starting that this weekend," she said.
O'Fallon is already getting "out and about".
She was at Trentham races and the Wellington Speedway on April 22 and, from July, will cut back her working hours at central government agency Superu, to campaign in an area she has long appreciated, independent of any political aspirations.
"Some of my favourite places are here. We love the Kaitoke regional park and Tunnel Gully and riding the Hutt River trail and the Rimutaka trail.
"It's so fabulous there is this investment in the cycle trails because it has so many positive spin offs."
The development of Upper Hutt as a craft brewery destination hub was another positive in a city which is doing well.
"I just see the amazing positive things, like the1000 consented properties in the last three years and the the growth in jobs with things like the former Dunlop factory area now being fully leased."
O'Fallon expected police services in the city to be raised as an issue by voters.
"I think the police are doing a great job," she said. "They are on the street and in their cars preventing crime and we need to support them.
"We all want a safer environment but we shouldn't get too hung up on whether the [Upper Hutt] station is manned 24 hours or not.
"We need to look at the cause of crime, that's where the whole social investment area is important."
After coming to New Zealand in 1988 to study for a PhD in social policy, O'Fallon more than met her match.
"I met a Southlander and fell in love and stayed."
The new couple, who today have three grown children, soon moved to Wellington where they have lived ever since.