Labour party announce Marvin Rees as mayoral candidate
LABOUR have picked Marvin Rees to be the party's candidate in the race to become Bristol's first elected mayor.
The 40-year-old, from Easton, was the only one of five hopefuls for the nomination not to have held elected office – but saw off competition from party heavyweights on the city council and former MP Dan Norris to win the backing of members.
Mr Rees is now likely to be the bookies' favourite to win the race to fill the new role, which will be decided in an election on November 15.
Mr Rees said it "felt great" to be declared Labour's candidate from the five-strong shortlist.
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He said: "It's amazing to get the endorsement of the party across the city and to get that vote of confidence. I wouldn't have put my name forward if I didn't have something to offer the city or the party. I was up against four fantastic candidates who have been around and done a lot of great stuff in city politics and national politics."
Mr Rees works as a programme manager in public health for the NHS and has worked as a BBC Radio reporter, political campaigner and charity coordinator.
Last week, he was given the backing of the country's biggest union, Unite, which said he "stood out from an impressive field of candidates as the person best placed to represent working people and their families".
In the party ballot, he clinched the vote by defeating Helen Holland and Peter Hammond, the former and current leaders of the party's group on the city council, former Wansdyke MP Dan Norris and former city councillor Kelvin Blake.
Speaking after his selection was announced last night Mr Rees said that, if he were elected, he would look to introduce a "living wage", promote apprenticeships and engage with the electorate to create a clear vision for the city.
Mr Rees said: "I want to work to unleash the potential of the city and bring a clear vision for what we want to be and where we want to go.
"I want to refresh local democracy. There was a low turnout for the elected mayor referendum - local democracy needs a shot in the arm."
Mr Rees said most candidates would "huddle around" flagship issues including transport, education, housing and the city's economy.
But he said engaging with the public would be crucial to the formation of his detailed policies.
Mr Rees said: "From transport to housing to mental health, the people have to have play a part in developing the decisions. If you don't do that, you will fall into the same trap of, 'Here's a policy and what's it got to do with anything?'"
Independent George Ferguson was the bookies' favourite in the first set of odds produced last month, when there were still five Labour contenders. But even then the party was rated odds-on to win the final vote, making Mr Rees the likely man to beat.
Other candidates already declared include former Tory councillor Spud Murphy and businessman Andy Thorn, both independents. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates have yet to be selected.
Meanwhile, Bob Ashford, right, was yesterday named Labour's candidate for the role of Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, beating business leader John Savage CBE in a ballot of members.
Henbury-born Mr Ashford was the director of strategy at the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, working with ministers and senior officials in the criminal justice world and responsible for a budget of £40 million.
He said: "I'm thrilled. We've had one campaign within the party and are now looking forward to the campaign ahead."