Dalziel and Parker set for mayoral race

MARTIN VAN BEYNEN AND CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 12:01 18/06/2013
Lianne Dalziel vs Bob Parker

WHO WILL BE MAYOR: Lianne Dalziel is set to go head-to-head against Bob Parker.

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Lianne Dalziel is set to enter the Christchurch mayoral race.

But a former Christchurch mayor, Garry Moore, has confirmed he will not run for a seat on the Christchurch City Council.

Dalziel, the long-serving Christchurch East MP, has long been rumoured as the favourite to challenge incumbent Bob Parker for the mayoral chains after her high-profile role as Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman and criticism of the city council.

Her official declaration is expected to be made this week.

Dalziel has the backing of her party for a mayoral bid, despite dropping out of the top 20-ranked Labour MPs in a party reshuffle in February.

If she stands and wins, she will probably have to resign her Christchurch East seat, triggering a by-election.

Dalziel has kept Christchurch guessing about a mayoralty bid for months.

In March, she was "99 per cent" sure she would not stand, but a month later it was revealed she had attempted to recruit Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson as a potential running mate.

Last month, she was still coy on a bid, but talked about the importance of alternative council leadership that cut across political party lines.

She said at the time that she would consider standing if she got the "right" team behind her, but admitted it was likely to include candidates from the Left-leaning People's Choice movement.

The rumour mill started turning again this month when Dalziel posted a picture of her with former mayors Vicki Buck and Garry Moore in a Christchurch cafe.

Buck and Moore were both said to be considering local government comebacks, and it emerged Buck and Dalziel had been meeting regularly.

But today, Moore quashed all rumours of a political comeback.

In a letter to the Press, he said: ''Over the past few years I have experienced increasing pressure to stand again for the City council. In the past few months this has increased in volume. While this attention is flattering I have decided, in consultation with my family, that I will not be standing for elected office in October.''

Moore said he maintained a ''passionate interest in public policy'' and has been very critical of how council affairs have been conducted over the past few years.

''I urge fellow citizens to consider standing for public office. There is widespread dissatisfaction at the performance of the Mayor and Council and this will only change if good people stand for elected office, are elected, and we support them while they are there.''

''Only when this occurs will we remedy the current poor decision making and apparent inability to either inform, or take us, their ratepayers, with them on various issues.''

''I look forward to the People's Republic of Christchurch flag hanging above our town once again,'' Moore wrote.

Buck, Moore's mayoral predecessor, has yet to make any announcement.

Lianne Dalziel 

● Aged 52.
● Married to lawyer Rob Davidson.
● Born and raised in Christchurch.

Dalziel, who has a law degree from Canterbury University and worked in the trade union movement before entering Parliament, is a seasoned campaigner.

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She first stood for Parliament in 1990, taking over the then safe Labour seat of Christchurch Central from retiring Labour leader and former prime minister Geoffrey Palmer.

She won the seat again in 1993, but three years later chose to stand only as a list candidate because she wanted to show her support for the mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral sytem.

However, she missed the constituency work that comes with being an electorate MP, so in 1999 stood in the Christchurch East seat, a safe Labour seat she has held ever since.

Under Helen Clark's Labour-led government, Dalziel was given a range of Cabinet portfolios, including immigration, senior citizens, disability issues, ACC, commerce, women's affairs and food safety.

But she got herself into trouble and had to resign from the Cabinet in early 2004 when she was forced to admit leaking documents to 3 News discrediting a Sri Lankan teenager's case for asylum, when she had previously denied being the source of the leak.

She was reinstated after being re-elected in the 2005 election.

Since Labour has been in Opposition, Dalziel's star has waned, due in part to her close alliance with Labour leader David Shearer's political rival, David Cunliffe.

In the last reshuffle of the Labour line-up, Dalziel, along with Cunliffe, was bumped from the top 20-ranked Labour MPs, although she is still Labour's spokeswoman on quake recovery issues.

Bob Parker

● Aged 60.
● Married to Joanna Nicholls-Parker.
● Born and raised in Christchurch.

Parker, a former broadcaster and host of television shows like This is Your Life, first entered local body politics in the early 1990s. He started out at grassroots level, serving on his local community board, before going on to serve two terms as the Banks Peninsula district's mayor.

During his time in office he successfully campaigned to get the district almagamated with Christchurch City. After the amalgamation, he became the district's representative on the city council.

In 2007 he stood for the Christchurch mayoralty, seeing off a strong challenge from now Labour MP Megan Woods to win the election by nearly 15,000 votes.

His bid for a second term in office proved more difficult.

Controversy over things like the council's multimillion-dollar bail-out of controversial property developer David Henderson and the Ellerslie International Flower Show purchase left Parker out of favour with many voters and in the 2010 local body elections he consistently polled behind his high-profile challenger, then Wigram MP Jim Anderton.

It seemed Parker would be a one-term mayor, but his impressive handling of the civil emergency that followed the September 4, 2010, quake saw his political fortunes change, and when the polls closed, Parker was declared the victor.

While winning widespread praise for the leadership he showed immediately after the quakes, Parker has struggled to unite his council and at times he has been at the helm of a seriously dysfunctional ship. The situation got so bad that Parker had to ask the Government to intervene.

Critics say he is too close to council chief executive Tony Marryatt, who he has supported through thick and thin.

He is accused of keeping information from a faction of the council that fails to follow the Parker line and being overly sensitive to criticism.

His wife's role in council affairs has also excited detractors.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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