North Shore councillor Richard Hills says he will not be running for the Auckland Mayoralty, saying the timing is not right after just becoming a father for the first time.
"I have recently been lucky enough to become a dad, something for a long time I never thought would be possible for us. I'm only three months into this important role as a parent and as a result, I won't be putting my name forward as a candidate in the Mayoral election.
"I had considered this role in the event Mayor Phil Goff retires from politics and am thankful for the support and approaches I received, but the timing just isn't right for my family and I," Hills said in a Facebook post.
The two-term councillor has been in a behind-the-scenes contest with Manukau councillor Efeso Collins to become the Labour-endorsed candidate for the mayoralty.
Collins has announced he is running for the mayoralty, but is unpopular in the party and there is no guarantee he will be endorsed as the Labour candidate.
Hills has enjoyed a meteoric rise at council since being elected as a North Shore councillor in 2016 at age 30. Now 35, he's a member of Goff's inner circle and chairs the environment and climate change committee.
Hills said he will be standing for re-election this year in the North Shore ward, saying he has secured significant investment and wins for the community.
"As chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee I have led Te Tāruke ā Tāwhiri: Auckland's Climate Plan which received unanimous support from committee members, progressed our water strategy and gained support for record investment into climate and environment initiatives, with more to come," said Hills, adding he is committed to help drive the city's recovering from Covid-19.
He thanked his partner Leight and baby son Theo for supporting him in what is "an already busy and important position for our community and the city".
Mayoral candidate Leo Molloy said Hill's decision to pull out showed his opponents are in disarray and "I am the only serious candidate" left in the race.
"Aucklanders cannot trust political parties and their vested interests in delivering a competent mayor," said the restaurateur.
"I wish Richard and his family well and look forward to working with him, should he be re-elected."