John Banks is in a strong position to win back the job of Mayor of Auckland City, poll results show.
A Herald-DigiPoll survey shows Mr Banks ahead of Mayor Dick Hubbard. The former mayor and National Cabinet minister is on 43.7 per cent, 8.5 points clear of Mr Hubbard. Businessman Alex Swney is a distant third on 7.2 per cent.
The last poll seven weeks ago showed Mr Banks with a 5.8-point lead over Mr Hubbard.
Mr Banks said the poll was encouraging "but we have to wait for the votes to be counted" at the end of postal voting on October 13.
Voting papers start arriving in letterboxes today.
"I'm going to continue to work every day and every night to deserve the votes that I get," he said.
Mr Hubbard did not want to comment, except to quote his Scottish grandmother: "The harder the road, the sweeter the victory."
The poll shows Mr Banks is well ahead of Mr Hubbard in the blue-ribbon wards of Eastern Bays and Hobson and marginally ahead in Avondale-Roskill and Eden-Albert.
Mr Hubbard leads in the liberal and Labour strongholds of Western Bays and Tamaki-Maungakiekie.
The poll coincided with Mr Banks' promise not to spend ratepayers' money on upgrading Eden Park, revelations that the bill for the leaky building crisis was between $200 million and $360 million and a parliamentary report accusing the council of misleading ratepayers over its water policy.
The poll found more than half of Auckland City residents favoured using rates money for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and upgrading Eden Park.
Asked what would be a fair contribution towards the cup and Eden Park, 13.3 per cent said $60 million, 26.7 per cent said $30 million and 32.8 per cent said $10 million. Only 27.2 per said the council should give nothing.
Mr Hubbard voted at the last council meeting on Thursday for a $50 million Rugby World Cup plan including at least $30 million for Eden Park.
The poll showed the most important election issue for voters was transport (27.1 per cent), followed by property rates (23.9 per cent), council spending (15.6 per cent), water rates (9.8 per cent), environmental sustainability (9.3 per cent) and leadership (8.2 per cent).
Asked about the performance of the current council, only 10.3 per cent of those surveyed rated it very good or excellent, 56.2 per cent said it was good, 33.6 per cent of voters marked it poor or very poor.