by Chris Tobin
Timaru registered nurse Olly Wilson has been appointed to the board of The Opportunities Party (TOP).
Mr Wilson stood for the party in the Rangitata electorate at last year’s general election and was appointed to the board after a party meeting in Wellington at the weekend.
Wellington economist and former deputy leader Geoff Simmons was appointed leader and is on the board with Mr Wilson, together with Paddy Plunket, a consultant of Wellington. All three were candidates in the last general election.
Mr Simmons’ leadership is an interim appointment until a vote is taken among members. Mr Wilson said he had no interest in running for the position.
“I’ll stand for Rangitata and will be involved on the board.”
Mr Wilson said he felt positive about the party with membership rising and donations being made.
“The feedback is positive; we’ve got 33,500 likes on Facebook.”
He expected there would be a lot of interest in candidates coming to stand in the next general election.
“We had a core group of 25 in the last election and a large chunk are still keen. Our goal is to double our vote and get over the 5%.
“Simon Bridges gave us credibility when he said he would work with us.”
Founder of the party and former leader Gareth Morgan is to be chairman of the party’s policy committee.
“He is going to help us with financial backing but he won’t be funding the whole party,” Mr Wilson said.
In the 2017 general election Mr Wilson was No 8 on the TOP party list. He received 1828 votes in the Rangitata electorate, which was won by National’s Andrew Falloon with 19,994 votes, a majority of 6331 over Labour’s Jo Luxton.
Mr Wilson polled ahead of then Green MP Mojo Mathers, who received 1583 votes, although the Green Party received more party votes in the electorate, with 1321 to TOP’s 825.