Len Brown set to run for super city mayor
Auckland super city mayoral contender Len Brown took a swipe at the government while launching his campaign today, promising Maori he would be inclusive.
Brown officially launched his bid for the Auckland super city mayoralty at One Tree Hill at noon before a gathering of around 100 - though he had tipped his hand on TVNZ's Q&A programme this morning.
The government last week decided to not have specific Maori seats on the new council.
"They sense a loss of place in this new structure," he said. "I want Maori around the table."
"Our diversity is the well spring of our future prosperity."
"I want to be defined, not by what I stand against, but for what I stand for," he said.
Brown said he wanted to be an inclusive mayor - his campaign pitch is mayor for "all" of Auckland.
He said Auckland needed a mayor "who believes in communities and people. A mayor who unites, who brings the people together, who is not a divider. A mayor must lead, but true leaders do so in an inclusive way, taking the community with them."
Brown said: "Auckland is poised at an historical moment, a civic coming together, a time for committing to a unity of purpose and vision, to the establishment of a world city - the pre-eminent economic and cultural hub in the south pacific."
Amongst his core policies: the hot topic of public ownership of assets including Auckland airport, integrated transport, developing broadband, protecting public services such as pools, and the environment - with a specific nod to Waitakere City and the work it had done on sustainability.
He said of the campaign: "We are building a coalition of people committed in the community, in business, in this room. It is time to galvanise, to be ready.
"We have an opportunity to unleash this city, to set the culture and values, to work together."
"This is not what I thought was in my stars 18 months ago when I was elected mayor of Manukau," he said.
Brown also had a near-fatal heart attack in May last year.
John Banks is the only other who has so far officially entered the race.
He welcomed Brown's announcement.
"I think its good. I'm encouraging as many people as possible to step up to the plate to give voters an eclectic choice of candidates," Banks said.
Brown's entry into the mayoralty contest was widely expected.
But it has taken time for the disparate left wing groups to consolidate on the single ticket approach.
While plenty of others are also expected to enter the contest - a smattering of lunatics and celebrities trying to make the break into politics is almost guaranteed - Brown and Banks are seen as the two big guns.
His entry will cause Banks some worries with signs Brown is picking up support.
As Brown has increasingly started extending his profile through Auckland in the build up to today's official announcement, voters have started to respond according to the pollsters.
Back in April a poll by UMR Research of 483 Aucklanders gave Banks 17 per cent support, well ahead of Brown on 6 per cent.
But by July a follow up UMR poll of 482 Aucklanders had Brown on 35 per cent, marginally ahead of Banks on 34 per cent.
At the time Gavin White, of UMR Research, said Brown had a natural support base in South Auckland and with older voters but also polled well regionwide against Banks.
Banks was more popular with younger voters, he said.
Also back in July both Brown and Banks appeared in person to make submissions to the parliamentary select committee hearing into Auckland governance legislation.
They amounted to campaign speeches, with both sides staking out their positions.
Banks has welcomed the super city amalgamation from the start, saying centralised rule is just what the region needs to get moving.
Brown has always followed a much more nuanced response - realistic enough to know a super city was inevitable and there are merits in centralisation, but equally advocating strong local community representation. He backed the original Royal Commission solution which saw well resourced mini-councils looking after local governance.