Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has asked the founder of Christchurch's Student Volunteer Army, Sam Johnson, to stand together to challenge Mayor Bob Parker in this year's local body elections, The Press understands.
Speculation has been mounting as to who will run against Parker in October. And The Press can now reveal Labour's Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokeswoman Dalziel has asked Johnson, 24, to be her running mate and would-be deputy mayor.
Johnson himself would have to be elected as a councillor to assume the deputy's position, and Dalziel is believed to have sounded out other running mates too.
But Johnson's reputation soared after he organised the much-celebrated student army to help quake-affected Cantabrians and in 2012 he was named Young New Zealander of the Year. He currently sits on the Riccarton-Wigram Community Board and in January indicated he could seek a seat on the city council .
"I'm not ruling it out but I haven't made a decision about it," Johnson told The Press at the time.
Neither Dalziel nor Johnson would comment last night. However, Johnson is believed to have confided in a handful of city leaders yesterday. In a March interview with The Press, Dalziel indicated a mayoral bid was unlikely, but not definitely off the table.
In recent weeks, city councillor Tim Carter also emerged as a viable challenger to Parker, launching campaign-style attacks, and branding the incumbent as having a "very poor record".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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