2024 marks a historic year for the North East, with the upcoming election of a new regional mayor who will play a key role in shaping our region’s future.

That figurehead will lead a new combined authority that stretches across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and Durham and will represent around two million people.

The multi-billion pound devolution deal negotiated with the Government for the North East hands the mayor significant funding and decision-making powers that the region has not held before, such as the ability to take public control over bus services.

Ahead of the mayoral election on May 2, we have asked all six candidates the same 10 questions to give voters a sense of both their policies and their personalities.

READ MORE: 10 questions with mayoral candidate Kim McGuinness

Here, the Reform UK candidate Paul Donaghy talks his career as a chef, rockstar dreams, and wanting to end the “same old politics”.
Why should people care about the North East mayoral election? You have the power to make key decisions on the quality of life you want for yourself, your family, and your community. Voting is your chance to stand up for the issues you care about. People are fed up with the same old politics and politicians so may feel like voting won’t change anything. If you want change you need to vote for it. Low turnout means that important local issues are determined by a limited group of voters so make your voice heard.
If you could do one thing as mayor to improve people’s lives, what would it be? A safe, secure affordable home for everyone.
What is your favourite place in the North East, and why? Creswell beach in Northumberland. I have fond memories of going there as a kid with my family and I now take my kids up there – we love long walks with the dogs and kayaking. I love Northumberland, it’s such a beautiful part of not just the UK but the world in my opinion.
What is (or was) your day job outside of politics? I started off my work life in the Royal Navy as a chef and have worked in the hospitality industry for 25 years, I ran my own consultancy company and I am now an area operations manager for a hotel chain.
What is your proudest achievement in your political career so far? Being selected as the Reform UK candidate to contest North East regional mayor and giving those who are disenfranchised a voice.
Other than becoming the North East Mayor, what would your dream job be? Airline pilot/rockstar. Imagine Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden but if you ordered him off Wish.
Who is your role model in life? My grandad. He was a traditional, working-class Geordie who put his family first, he was always there for me and kept me on the right path, I will be forever grateful for his words of wisdom and guidance
If you could ban one thing in the North East, what would it be? Littering/shopping trollies.
If you could erect a statue somewhere in our region, who would it commemorate? Mark Knopfler.

If you didn’t win the mayoral election, which of the other candidates would you most like to win? Winston Churchill.