Willie Jackson and John Tamihere have announced they are standing for the respective mayoralties of Manukau City and Waitakere City.
I think this is great, as big cities need big mayors.
I have long been a firm believer that party politics should not play a strong role in local body elections. Certainly I have voted for Labour and Green candidates for Wellington City Council – not because they are Labour or Green but despite that. I believe in the best people for the job.
Now Willie is a former Alliance MP and John a former Labour MP. But I would be voting for both those guys over Len Brown or Bob Harvey. I don’t know either of them really well, but had a bit to do with John when he was an MP, and gotten to know Wille a bit this year as we have both been on the Good Morning political panel on TV One.
The reason why I think their candidacies is a good thing is because the Mayoralty is about leadership. A strong high profile Mayor can do wonders for a city. It isn’t about who can chair a meeting well (even though that helps), or other administrative tasks.
Auckland City is a great example of what happens when you don’t have a strong Mayor. Hubbard has had a hellish three years because he can’t control his Council. It doesn’t matter than you have only one vote – you have the pulpit and can use it. A strong Mayor can generate public support for a vision and direction and get people behind them, and the Council will fall in behind.
For the first time in maybe a generation there are going to be very exciting and probably very close races in Auckland, Waitakere and Manukau. Much more fun then in Wellington where Lower Hutt is probably the only competitive race for Mayor.