Concert promoter considers mayoralty bid

JO COUGHLAN: Considering challenging for the Wellington mayoralty.
JO COUGHLAN: Considering challenging for the Wellington mayoralty.

Concert promoter Phil Sprey is considering a tilt at Wellington's mayoralty, saying the capital is being "out-walleted by Auckland and out-sympathied by Christchurch".

It follows the revelation today that two-term Wellington city councillor Jo Coughlan has confirmed she is contemplating challenging for the mayoralty.

The Right wing of Wellington politics has been searching for a challenger to incumbent mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who has confirmed she will stand for a second term in the October election.

Mr Sprey said today that the city was in need of someone "radical" and he had been considering running for about a month. He would make a decision by the end of the month, he said.

"Sometimes you've got to put your money where your mouth is ... there are so many things in this city that are just falling behind, we're being out-walleted by Auckland, and out-sympathied by Christchurch."

He was looking at who would also stand for council that he could work with, but said if he did decide to stand it would only be for mayor and not for council too.

If he did stand he would be looking at a variety of issues that would get Wellington moving again, including the airport, a new arena, and attracting more events to the capital, he said.

He is the managing director of concert promoter Capital C and has brought major acts to Wellington, including Elton John, Bon Jovi and Ozzy Osbourne.

When The Dominion Post asked Ms Coughlan in October about her intentions she evaded the question, but now concedes she is ''considering'' running for the top job.

''I have made no secret of the fact that we have been thinking about what I'm potentially going to do in October.''

However, she declined to elaborate on a timetable for making a decision, or what factors she was weighing up, simply saying she was considering all the usual things people thought of ''if you were weighing up what the next role in your life is''.

First elected to council in the Onslow-Western ward in 2007, Ms Coughlan currently holds the economic portfolio, and has accompanied Ms Wade-Brown on visits to China in that capacity.

Her CV includes time as a press secretary, running her own public relations firm, and being a board member of the Life Education Trust. She is a mother of six, and sister-in-law to Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

Ms Wade-Brown said she was unsurprised to hear Ms Coughlan was contemplating a run at the mayoralty.

''You'd have two people who are both pretty focused on good jobs and the economy, but rather different approaches to some of the community facilities.''

If Ms Coughlan did stand, it would be interesting to see if she also stood for the council, because standing solely for mayor showed commitment to the position, Ms Wade-Brown said.

Last election's third-placed mayoral candidate, Jack Yan, is also considering standing, saying ''it's looming large in the things I'd like to do''.

He planned to announce a decision either way in a few weeks.

Bernard O'Shaughnessy, who placed fifth in 2010's election, has been signing emails ''Mayoral candidate 2013!'' and ''Mayor Elect!''

However, when asked he would say only that he was ''considering'' standing and had indicated an interest.

News that Ms Coughlan is considering challenging comes as reports circulate about who the Right wing will put forward to challenge Ms Wade-Brown, who is a Green Party member but stood as an independent.

Wellington College principal Roger Moses said he had been approached about two or three months ago to stand but had declined, saying he was better off running the school.

Museum Hotel owner Chris Parkin said he had heard lots of names being thrown around, but would not be adding his own.

He had heard Ms Coughlan's name mentioned, and thought she had ''quite a lot of positives'' to offer the city.

''Jo's got the right attitude and understanding, particularly of how important business is to Wellington, and she's an articulate, thinking person.''

Labour MP Annette King, who represents Rongotai, had been widely touted as the most likely contender, until she was reappointed to Labour's front bench.

She said yesterday that she had ''no plans for the mayoralty''.

The local body election is on October 12. Nominations close on August 23.

Contact Katie Chapman
Wellington reporter
Twitter: @katiechapman28

The Dominion Post