Here's to Leo Molloy for getting out of the way so that another business-focused candidate can have a crack at the Auckland mayoralty.
That person needs to have the determination now being exhibited by mayors in some major world cities to deal with rising crime and homelessness, and put in place policies to pave the way for their economic recovery.
Of the candidates left standing, I would rate Wayne Brown as having the best chance of making a major difference to the city.
Brown — like Molloy — is an iconoclast with a big ego. He is also abrasive.
That said, he does have a track record of achievement. He proved that while chairing the Auckland DHB and dealing with a major fiscal issue, and he is across other strategic questions like the ultimate shifting of Auckland's port.
Molloy said yesterday that a Ratepayers' Alliance-Curia poll which showed his support declining was the killer blow for his own chances in the mayoralty race.
But at the very least, he had the fortitude to frankly air concerns about rising crime across Auckland.
The restaurateur had been demonised as an "angry" man by a series of pearl-clutching critics. That was even before his flamboyant television interview with Guy Williams, where he hit out at the "woke" and claimed Auckland had been hampered by a succession of "soft-****" mayors.
Like many inner-city denizens, he had reason to be angry.
The brute reality is that Auckland is still paying the price for the unintended consequences of lengthy lockdowns which Wellington-based bureaucrats had not taken into account, and an absence of sensible policing.
Outgoing Mayor Phil Goff has many positive qualities, but he was also effectively missing in action during the lockdowns. The police similarly, as they were out on the city border and are only now starting to confront what is going down.
The upshot is that in inner-city apartment blocks, residents are dealing with the impact of the "501" deportees in Auckland; gang members are underwriting rentals for "front tenants" so they can deal from town; there are the guns and drugs — including P pipes and syringes found in apartments where the Ministry of Social Development is helping to underwrite clients' rentals.
Private security firms are a growth business as inner-city businesses join the major brand stores lining downtown Queen St in placing guards at their doors.
But the Auckland CBD — or city centre as its residents prefer to call it — is not alone. Right across Auckland the consequences of lawlessness are rising. Car-jackings, ram raids, shootings, killings — this is not good.
The central city in particular is not going to get back to full economic strength unless someone can step up and galvanise action.
It will be no easy thing for the next mayor to confront this lawlessness, let alone try to do something about it.
For instance, just three days ago The New York Times reported that seven months into Mayor Eric Adams' term, the hope and excitement that many New Yorkers felt after his election was giving way to concern that he has not taken the bold steps needed to solve the city's most intractable problems.
As the NYT said, their list of concerns was long: rising crime, high inflation, another wave of coronavirus cases and a monkeypox outbreak. Add to this unease over the city's overwhelmed homeless shelter system, growing anxiety over its economic recovery from the pandemic and complaints about noxious piles of trash lining the streets.
Again in New York, the Police Department has recorded a 41 per cent increase in overall major crime in early 2022 compared to the same period last year, including a nearly 54 per cent increase in robberies, a 56 per cent rise in grand larceny incidents and a 22 per cent increase in rape reports — murders were also up by 10 per cent.
So what to do?
The Prime Minister has shuffled Chris Hipkins into the Minister of Police role.
Police are busy strategising at their Wellington HQ — but there is still no central police station in the middle of the city.
Brown talks about how the next mayor of Auckland needs to be able to bang heads together to address crime in Auckland. But his policies are so far under-cooked.
Centre-right rival Viv Beck is committing to convene an Auckland crime and safety summit to confirm the structure and action plan for a Mayoral Action on Public Safety Taskforce within her first 90 days in office.
Just 20-30 years ago, New York City was also racked with crime.
Interestingly, while New York's crime reduction (then) was attributed to former mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration, the aggressive policing of lower-level crimes — called the "broken windows" approach — played a part.
I like Beck but in my view Brown won't be cowed by "Wellington" and will stand up for some much-needed action.