Centre-right swells with Super City hopefuls

By Bernard Orsman

Christine Rankin. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Christine Rankin. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Families Commissioner Christine Rankin, Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney and businessman Tenby Powell are taking on the Citizens & Ratepayers establishment at the Super City elections.

Mrs Rankin is cutting her ties with C&R to stand in the North Shore ward on the new North Now ticket. Mr Swney and Mr Powell are standing as independents in the single-member Waitemata & Gulf ward.

Yesterday's announcements are the latest challenge to the right-leaning C&R political ticket, which has virtually controlled Auckland City Council since 1944 and wants majority control of the 20 ward seats on the new Auckland Council.

Last week, Newmarket Business Association chief executive and National Party member Cameron Brewer said he was challenging C&R's Doug Armstrong to be the first councillor for the single-member Orakei ward.

Now C&R faces two, right-leaning challengers in Waitemata & Gulf, arguably the most plum ward where the focus will be on waterfront development and major transport projects.

C&R president John Slater hopes Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett will recover from treatment for throat cancer by the time nominations close on August 20 to contest Waitemata & Gulf for the ticket.

Nominations for October's local body elections open today.

The likelihood of three centre-right candidates in the ward is good news for Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee, who is standing as an independent with the endorsement of the left-leaning City Vision ticket.

Mr Swney, who stood for the Auckland City mayoralty in 2007 and polled third with 10,677 votes, said the Super City provided an opportunity for fresh candidates not bound by party structures. He has been a longtime champion of the waterfront, heritage and public transport in his role at the Heart of the City. He successfully campaigned for a large park at the end of the Tank Farm.

Mr Powell, who earlier talked of standing against John Banks for the Super City mayoralty, said he now fully supported the Auckland City Mayor's bid to manage what he believed would be a politically charged, first-term environment. He hoped to have a reasonably senior role in a Banks-led council.

The 50-year-old said the Auckland Council needed more people with management and business experience.

Mrs Rankin believed she was better off standing for North Now than C&R because it better represented her strong connections and desire to protect, grow and develop hubs like the North Shore.

"I am a North Shore girl and I want to make sure that the North Shore and North Harbour aren't forgotten in the Super City," she said.

Mr Slater said discussions were still taking place to find candidates for the two-member North Shore ward. North Shore City councillor Grant Gillon and Auckland Regional councillor Joel Cayford have announced they will stand.

Last night, former North Shore Mayor George Wood announced he would be seeking one of the two seats in the North Shore ward.

Comedian and former Waitakere City councillor Ewen Gilmour yesterday confirmed that he would be standing for the Super City mayoralty, saying there was more to Auckland than the Rugby World Cup and public transport.

- NZ Herald

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