June Baudinet knows a thing or two about winning, be it a beauty pageant or fiercely competed sporting events.
Now she is testing her mettle in politics.
Baudinet, 74, is vying for the Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua seat on Atiu, in the by-election to be held on November 14.
She is the Democratic Party nominee for the seat that has been twice won by Te-Hani Brown. The 24-year-old Brown is out to regain the seat, entering the by-election as an independent candidate.
Baudinet, who was approached by the Demos about 10 days ago, said she would do her best to win the seat in the upcoming poll.
“All my life I have ran many races and won them all, I’m not sure about this one but I will give it a go,” said Baudinet, a well-known businesswoman.
The former Miss Cook Islands and national athlete said she entered politics with a vision to bring back prosperity to Atiu.
She said she was inspired by her late grandfather and Atiuan Taringa Matenga, who played a major role in her success.
“I want to help my people in Atiu, that’s why I considered the offer to stand in the by-election when it came to me,” Baudinet said.
“It pains me every time I go back to Atiu to see the place going downhill. There is not much left there. The young people are leaving the island because there aren’t opportunities there.
“I want to help improve the lives of people on Atiu so that they can have a better future. I want to especially give our young people the opportunity for better education and options on the island so they do not have to go overseas to seek for a better future.”
Improving health and infrastructure on the island are other areas Baudinet will focus on should she get elected in Parliament.
Baudinet, who is in New Zealand for a Cook Islands women’s awards event where she was a winner, will return to the country next week to start focusing on her by-election campaign.
Efforts to get comments from Te-Hani Brown, who won the seat as a Democratic Party candidate in the 2018 general election and as an Independent in a by-election earlier this year, proved futile.
Brown defeated veteran politician Nandi Glassie in the past two elections.
Glassie, who unsuccessfully filed a petition after losing the by-election in March, ruled himself out of the upcoming poll due to ill-health.
Chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua said they had 132 voters registered for the November 14 by-election – three fewer than the number in the March by-election.