A battle royale could unfold in the Far North in the next local body election, with former Northland MP and NZ High Commissioner to the Cook Islands John Carter announcing today he is going to run for mayor.
Incumbent Far North Mayor Wayne Brown said it's too early to say if he will stand for a third term - he decided a few months before the 2010 vote - but if he does the gloves are expected to come off with two strong candidates jockeying for votes.
Mr Carter, who left Parliament before the 2011 election after 24 years as the National MP for Northland, said he didn't want to comment on whether he was standing because of concerns over Mr Brown's leadership of the district.
"As always, I never look backwards at what might or might not have been. My focus is on the future and working with people," Mr Carter said.
However, he said he had kept a close watch on affairs in the district since he retired as an MP and felt a growing concern at the disunity and resultant lack of progress.
Mr Carter - who is also a former Local Government Minister and one-time chief executive of the Hokianga County Council - said he looked forward to the challenge if Mr Brown stood again.
But Mr Brown said he supposed Mr Carter needed a job.
"I didn't decide to stand until August last time, and that was against a former businessman of the year who was a knight [Sir John Goulter], two things John Carter is not," Mr Brown said.
When told Mr Carter's views on a unitary authority for the Far North - something the Mayor is pushing for - he said: "So he is already fence-sitting, nothing new there."
Mr Carter said he felt more information and consultation was needed on a unitary authority and any push for change had to come from the people after all that extra information was provided.
He will give up his High Commissioner's role a year early to come aback to the Far North in April to start his election campaign.
Mr Carter said he had already informed Northland MP Mike Sabin (National), Te Tai Tokerau MP and Mana party leader Hone Harawira and Labour list MP Shane Jones of his intention to stand.
He said he had the ability to work with any political party to benefit the Far North.