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Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: An embarrassment of Mayors

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Xero managing director Victoria Crone, who many think should be mayor because, you know, Xero's just awesome. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Xero managing director Victoria Crone, who many think should be mayor because, you know, Xero's just awesome. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

It's mayoral election year again in one of the world's greatest cities. At least, that's what yet another international survey conducted by people who don't have to live here tells us. Those people need to travel a bit.

Auckland has never wanted for mayors who have identified the city's problems and worked out solutions.

The problem now is that too many people want to live in too little space. The result is the city is increasingly occupied by the sort of people who can afford to live here - and are those the sort of people you want as your neighbours?

The solution is lots more medium-density housing. Mayors know this.

Unfortunately, Auckland has never had a mayor who has been able to convince the population that this is the solution and get their support for it.

And there's no chance of any improvement this year.

This time around the candidates include:

• Failed prime ministerial aspirant Phil Goff vying for the consolation prize in the twilight of his career.

• Former council policy analyst David Hay, who wants to change the voting process to the single transferrable vote system, because that's an issue really exercising Aucklanders.

• Stephen Berry, who wants you to be able to cut down as many trees on your property as you like and who flies under the banner "Affordable Auckland" so you know he has a sense of humour.

• Xero managing director Victoria Crone, who many think should be mayor because, you know, Xero's just awesome.

• Activist Penny Bright, because that's what she does.

• Mark Thomas, whose official bio says he once owned "a Metro Top 50 restaurant" and is open to a rates freeze and, presumably, the ensuing economic chaos.

• And, most recently, John Palino, who was in the middle of the smears and innuendo that fatally kneecapped Len Brown's incumbency.

Many of the already announced candidates have indicated it might be good to stop for a cup of tea and have a bit of a rethink about this whole Unitary Plan and medium-density business that an army of well-informed and competent people have spent a huge amount of time formulating.

I don't believe they think this because it is the right thing to do - although some will.

I believe they think this mainly because they don't want to risk losing votes from the incredibly vociferous Nimby-ists who oppose sensible measures to ensure Auckland's future as a great place to live because it might inconvenience them in the short term.

So, thanks to politics and the politicians' irresistible desire to be re-elected, whoever wins the baubles of office this year is almost certain to do nothing to fix the city's easily fixed problems.

Some say Auckland gets the mayor it deserves. I'd like to think that's yet to happen.

Have you had to endure Prince bores in your place of work since last Wednesday - going on about what a once-in-lifetime occasion it was and how it was worth every exorbitant cent?

I won't be one of them, but I do want to acknowledge the woman four seats along from me who stood and swung her poi to every song for the whole two hours. I bet he has never had that happen before.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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