Auckland Mayor Len Brown launches his re-election campaign today, and pledges to tackle social problems such as corner bottle stores and pokie parlours.
Brown confirmed to the Herald on Sunday that he would seek another three years leading the Auckland SuperCity. He has called a press conference this afternoon on One Tree Hill - the same place he celebrated his victory in 2010.
His new campaign billboard says: "Len knows what matters to Aucklanders."
The Mayor is taking a harder line on pokie machines, as he seeks re-election under the shadow of the contentious SkyCity cash-for-pokies deal. In a surprise admission after voting in favour of the convention centre deal, Brown says he would oppose it if the decision were a council one.
The city administration has effectively signed up to a Government deal to boost the numbers of gaming machines at SkyCity's casino, but Brown said he would push down numbers of pokie machines in the suburbs.
"We haven't yet brought in a gaming policy for the suburbs and that's to be done. You'll see a sinking lid in the suburbs."
Previously a lawyer with a community practice in Howick, Brown said he would stand on five key planks - non-divisive politics; transport; more houses; social issues; and prudent financial management. The 56-year-old told the Herald on Sunday that he would target the harmful effects of alcohol and homelessness as part of his five-point focus.
Asked how he could claim to be concerned with social harm when he has endorsed the expanded downtown casino in exchange for a convention centre, Brown said: "Most councillors, including me, would not be supporting it if it was a council project. But it is the Government's project."
In a largely symbolic conscience vote last month, Auckland councillors voted 10-7 against the casino deal - but Brown supported it.
Yesterday, Brown said the convention centre would drive tourism and improve the economic prospects of the city. "There will be 800 people involved in the construction and 1,000 people employed at the convention centre. I know it's not a project that's overwhelmingly supported by Auckland."
Asked if the project would be put through council resource consent processes and be publicly notified, Brown said: "It's not for me to do that. That's a matter for the council officers to consider. I've had no input into the process and nor would it be proper for me to do so."
Brown wants to speed up the construction of the city rail loop and encourage more house building.
"Our community is challenged by house prices and we are looking for special projects to bring more affordable houses on to the market."
Brown also wants more action on local alcohol plans, controlling the number of outlets.