John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

John Minto after mayoralty

Activist John Minto hopes his party will support his challenge to Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who he calls a 'corporate candidate'

Minto said Brown had failed Auckland's poor. Photo / APN
Minto said Brown had failed Auckland's poor. Photo / APN

Veteran activist John Minto is asking his political party to approve a run for mayor of Auckland. The trade unionist and teacher said Mayor Len Brown had disappointed him.

"What has Len Brown done which is different to what John Banks would have done if he were in? You struggle to find many significant things."

Sources said the Mana Party was initially keen on the idea to dispel perceptions that the party was solely about its leader, Hone Harawira. "If I did run it would be as an official Mana candidate," Minto said ahead of this weekend's Mana Party AGM in Tokoroa. "Mana's considering it."

Minto said Brown had failed Auckland's poor. "The business community and people on high incomes in Auckland are very happy with Len Brown, so I don't know whether they'll bother putting up a candidate," Minto told the Herald on Sunday.

"He is a corporate candidate, effectively."

Minto said centre-right councillor Cameron Brewer was also weighing up a campaign based around opposition to high-rise housing plans.

Brewer said the unitary plan, with its emphasis on high-rise housing, had fired up Aucklanders and Brown had underestimated their anger.

Yet Brewer was less likely than Minto to run for mayor. "Never say never but it's an unlikely proposition," he said this week.

"At this stage my focus is on building my base in Orakei and continuing to hold the Mayor accountable."

Brewer said Brown had nurtured a bloated bureaucracy and a practice of wasteful borrowing. Brown's office dismissed the criticism. "If he's being attacked from the far right and the far left, that suggests he's right in the middle doing a great job," spokesman Dan Lambert said.

Lambert said transport and housing were always big issues for Aucklanders but it was too early to say what Brown would concentrate his re-election campaign on.

"Len is focused on being the Mayor for Auckland and he's leaving anything around the election to his campaign machine."

Brewer said a few months ago Brown was "a shoo-in", but a prominent, energetic centre-right candidate could now be a serious contender.

The last election offered a colourful field. Candidates included former North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams, far-left activist Penny Bright and John Banks, who later joined Williams in Parliament. Bright said she would run for mayor again this year.

Nominations for local elections open on July 19 and close on August 16. Candidates should be New Zealand citizens and enrolled voters. They need two nominators who live in their local authority and must pay a $200 deposit or nomination fee. The elections run by postal vote from September 20 to October 12.

- Herald on Sunday

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