Andrew Williams: I want to be Super Mayor

By Bernard Orsman

Andrew Williams. Picture / Paul Estcourt
Andrew Williams. Picture / Paul Estcourt

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams is standing for the Super City mayoralty, promising to inject his own colourful style of politics into the contest.

Mr Williams has started as he means to go on, firing potshots at the two heavyweight contenders Auckland City Mayor John Banks and Manukau Mayor Len Brown, and comparing himself to unconventional mayors, such as London's Boris Johnson and Invercargill's Tim Shadbolt.

The first-term mayor said he had been surprised by Mr Banks' "pie in the sky" plan to bring the Olympic Games to Auckland and felt the wheels had fallen off Mr Brown's campaign over his credit card expenses.

"I have had my moments, but at least I have been able to weather the storm," said Mr Williams, who shot to notoriety in March after a day of drinking, allegedly urinating outside the council offices and driving his mayoral car home.

He said he was not over the alcohol level after starting drinking at 1pm at a charity lunch he hosted and continuing off and on until about 9.30pm.

In December, Prime Minister John Key described texts from Mr Williams, some at 3.30am, as aggressive and obnoxious.

In August 2008, Mr Williams also hit the headlines when he collapsed at a Devonport Naval Base function and lashed out at an ambulance officer who took him to North Shore Hospital. He blamed the incident on dehydration and exhaustion from an overseas trip.

Asked if his critics would have a field day, Mr Williams said some of the great mayors of the world had been out there on the edge, such as Boris Johnson and Tim Shadbolt. It was often the more colourful and stronger mayors who got things done.

"I consider myself on the edge and colourful. I'm prepared to take risks and give things a go," he said.

Of all the Auckland mayors, Mr Williams has been the most outspoken on the Super City reforms and a vocal critic of Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

He believes this advocacy has contributed to taking some of the hard edges off the reforms and in the past week decided to put his hat in the ring.

He claimed to have a small campaign team of fewer than 10 people, but would not name names. The 51-year-old Campbells Bay resident said he loved being the underdog, saying he was the underdog at the 2007 local body elections where he beat George Wood for the North Shore mayoralty.

He believed his nine years as trade commissioner for Belgium and Luxembourg and honorary vice-consul of Belgium gave him the business and diplomatic skills to be the first Super Mayor.

Transport, economic development and ensuring the Super City was not CBD-centric would be main policy platforms. Could he work with Rodney Hide? "That would be Rodney's worst nightmare."

WHO IS ANDREW WILLIAMS?

* Became North Shore mayor in 2007.

* In August 2008, after he collapsed at a Navy function, Mr Williams lashed out at ambulance staff. His wife claimed he was suffering from "Chinese lurgy", after an exhausting 10-day trip to Korea and China.

* At a November 2008 council meeting Mr Williams called Councillor Chris Darby a "smart-arse" for challenging his recollection of another meeting, before walking out.

* In October 2009, he emailed his mayoral predecessor George Wood about 11.30pm describing him as a "buffoon" and a "disgruntled, failed has-been", and left abusive messages on his voicemail.

* In December 2009 Prime Minister John Key said he had become the target of "obnoxious" and "aggressive" texts from Mr Williams over the Super City - some arriving as early as 3.30am.

* In March 2010, Mr Williams was seen drinking at a bar, allegedly urinating in front of the North Shore council chambers and then driving home. He maintains he was not over the alcohol limit to drive.

- NZ Herald

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