Embattled and exhausted Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker will not be running in the next election.
Parker made the shock announcement last night in a statement that said the city needed a "fresh face" and that he did not believe he had "the energy to lead this city for another term".
It came on the eve of the release of The Press Research First Poll that shows veteran Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has the support of 70 per cent of respondents, while Parker had just 30 per cent.
Parker's departure from the mayoral race follows his decision on Wednesday to place Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt on indefinite leave due to his failure to pass on crucial information about the council's consenting crisis.
"I feel exhausted having worked non-stop over the past six years in office and I know that I can't sustain the pressure and stress of this job for another three," Parker said.
"Everyone deserves a fresh start and this city needs to be led by someone who has the energy and drive to take them on this journey."
He had to think of his own well-being, and those closest to him, he said.
He was proud of the council, and thanked staff for their loyalty and support during his term.
"They've taken a pounding since the earthquakes and they have continued to perform outstandingly against much adversity."
Parker took a dig at the mayoral race during an emotional appearance on Campbell Live last night, when he said it "feels to me like a dirty election", with a lot of people "trying to score some hits".
"I really don't feel that I've got it in me to sustain another three years."
He was exhausted. "It's really, really hard work."
But with him not putting in his nomination form, there was still time for someone else to put their hand up, he said.
Parker said he had a lot of respect for Marryatt. And even though he was not perfect, he had worked hard.
"All I see that gets directed at him is a lot of negativity."
Now Parker was taking responsibility too, and he wanted to take his political "baggage" out of the equation for the good of the city, he said through tears.
"Like a lot of people in my city, my emotions are on my sleeve now. But I'm glad about that."
Cr Glenn Livingstone said it would have been a "very difficult" decision for Parker.
"I think it's a face-saving decision and I think it's a good way for him to keep his reputation intact," he said.
"I think he will be remembered for being there when people needed reassurance and he will have a special place in the history of Christchurch's mayors."
Livingstone said Parker had made murmurs for a while of not standing again but the events of the past week had probably pushed him to make the decision.
He did not rate anyone else's chances of taking on Dalziel for the mayoralty.
Former mayor Vicki Buck was surprised but not astonished by Parker's announcement after what she described as a "very tough" week for him. She said he had built up a good reputation during the earthquakes.
"I think people in Christchurch will remember exactly what he did well and what he did best, and that was fronting and the leadership at a time when people really needed it.
"It is a fulltime, consuming, demanding job at the best of times and at the worst of times it must be more so."
Former mayor Garry Moore said Parker had made the right decision.
"I think it is definitely time for a changing of the guard [at council].
"I think the writing has been on the wall for a while and good on him for making the call."
1973: Becomes an announcer for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation
1978: Moves into television
1984: Bought the NZ rights to America's "This is your life" series and is host, researcher and writer for next 12 years.
Early 1990s: Parker joins Banks Peninsula community board
1997: Paul Holmes replaces Parker on This Is Your Life Parker concentrates efforts on advertising and marketing business
2001: Elected as Mayor of Banks Peninsula where he served two terms 2006: Banks Peninsula was amalgamated with Christchurch city and Parker became a city councillor
2007: Became Christchurch mayor with 47,033 votes compared to Megan Woods' 32,821
2010: Re-elected as mayor with 68, 245 votes, compared to Jim Anderton's 51,566 as his reaction to Christchurch earthquakes was widely praised
2010/ 2011: Parker becomes the media face of the Christchurch recovery efforts after the earthquakes July 5,
2013: Parker announces he will not be seeking re-election.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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