Plea for forgiveness
Embattled mayor Len Brown is seeking forgiveness after admitting he hasn't lived up to his Christian faith.
Mr Brown went to ground last week after his affair with council advisory board member Bevan Chuang was exposed.
But speaking exclusively to the Manukau Courier yesterday, Mr Brown says he's confident he'll be cleared by an independent inquiry into his mayoral expenses.
And the question of whether he has breached the council code of conduct does not apply to him or other elected members, only council employees, he says.
"I'm not covered by that. The only thing I really need to be mindful of at this time is the view of the people who elected me the mayor.
"That's where my mandate is – that's who I'm most accountable to. I'm listening to them and reflecting on what they've had to say to me."
He's received encouraging support from some sectors of the community, he says.
"It's fair to say that people have sort of looked at me and my faith and the failure of me to deliver against it.
"But some of those who have been most compassionate actually have been those of quite strong religious and in particular Christian belief. They have talked a lot about mercy and forgiveness."
But there have also been those who are critical of the mayor.
"There are, of course, people in their emails, texts and the way in which they deal with me on the street who find it very hard to look at me."
Now he wants to get on with running the city and repairing the damage he's done at home.
It has been "an extraordinarily difficult time" for his wife, children, father, sisters and extended family, he says.
"We hope they will be able to move on. Shan and I in particular with the kids are working day to day and hoping love will prevail."
Mr Brown denies he's considering resigning but admits he's thought long and hard about his ability to lead Auckland into the future.
"I think that issue has been one I have been most reflecting on – aside from the obvious concerns for my family – as we move forward.
"If it was impacting on my ability to lead the city then, yes, it would genuinely be a matter I'd be concerned about.
"At this point in time, aside from the fact that I feel pretty awful, I'm just getting on with the job," he says.
The mayor plans to increase his presence in the community again during the coming weeks but says it's likely to be quite low key.
And he's encouraging people to be honest with him if they see him in the street.
"Don't be afraid to tell me what they think. I'm not turning my face, I've always said to the people 'in good times and bad I will be here'."
THE HARD QUESTIONS
Do you have any concern for Bevan Chuang's welfare?
"In amongst all of this I bear none of the parties personal animosity. Far be it from me to bear any sense of that. I feel sorry for them. I really would encourage them to get on with their lives."
You provided Ms Chuang with a reference when she applied for a job at the Auckland Art Gallery. Have you provided references for other people?
"I provide countless references. I get phone calls because I know hundreds of thousands of people and know many of them well. It was very early stages of me knowing her, let alone being involved. I probably won't be providing much into the future."
Is this [the revelations] a new approach to politics in New Zealand?
"It's certainly a new low. That's the issue, not just about the mayoralty but about politics full stop."
Can the public be assured an independent inquiry won't show any financial wrongdoing?
"Yes. I learnt a lot from the difficulties I had at the back end of my Manukau mayoralty in terms of expenditure."
How's your health?
"I'm not ready to keel over yet. I've had a cold right throughout this which hasn't helped."
What's your message to the people of Auckland?
"I know and understand there's a a bit of personal grieving going on - I've disappointed them. They've been very supportive of me with Shan. I really appreciate that. I'm asking them and Aucklanders to let me redeem myself and carry on with my work."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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