Mayoral race off to a slow start

00:30, Jun 19 2013

Two of Christchurch’s most seasoned political campaigners are going it alone to decide who will be the next mayor of the city.

Today Labour MP Lianne Dalziel ends months of speculation by officially declaring her candidacy for the mayoralty against incumbent Bob Parker.

The experienced pair are the only two candidates publicly in the race, and while they will loom large over the local political scene until the October election, both will do it by themselves.

Neither has a running mate, and Parker says he has only a shoe-string budget for the campaign.

Dalziel, who will stand as an independent, is saying little about her platform or her policies, but confirmed she will resign as Labour's Christchurch East MP.

‘‘People have been telling me they want me to run for the mayoralty and I’ve decided to do that. It was a big decision to make, but I’m really quite relieved now that it is made.’’


Despite having had discussions with several people, including Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson, about standing together, Dalziel will not be running with a ticket or a team.

‘‘The first thing I want to do is unite the council,'' she said. 

‘‘At the moment, you hear councillors talking about an A team and a B team, and I don’t think there is any room for more than one team around the table.’’

Parker said he had been assuming for months that Dalziel would be his main rival, but it was hard to gauge what kind of campaign she would run or how she would be perceived by voters as she had yet to put forward any policies or ideas.

He suggested she would have considerably more resources to throw at the campaign because of her Labour Party connections, while he was reluctant to ask people for financial backing.

‘‘I don’t like that side of the game. I don’t like asking people for things and I certainly don’t like asking them for money,’’ said Parker, who paid for most of the $60,000 he spent on his last campaign.

He said that despite the stress and the strain of the past three years, he was going into this election with more enthusiasm and energy than in 2010. 

He loved his job and wanted to help steer Christchurch through the rebuild.

Asked what he thought his chances of winning another term were, Parker said he felt he had solid support across the city.

‘‘I’ve got a reasonable expectation of winning, but you don’t count on it,’’ he said.

Dalziel would not divulge details about her platform or policies yet because she wanted time to talk to people and gather information on key issues.

I want to set up a very broad-based sounding board that actually engages a number of people from all walks to life and across the political spectrum and build that into the kind of sounding board that won’t just be available to me before the election but will be available to the whole council after the election.’’

She dismissed any suggestion that if elected she would have trouble working with Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, her current political opponent as Labour’s earthquake recovery spokeswoman, saying she had a proven track record of working across political lines.

Parker is not convinced the partnership would work.

''She's called for him to resign and clearly there has been a lot of personal angst between them in the past,'' he said.

''Gerry and I occasionally bang heads, but we get on really well and have a good relationship.''

The Press