John Tamihere's announcement of his candidacy for the Auckland mayoralty should make for a lively start to local body election year. Tamihere poses a larger threat to the incumbent, Phil Goff, than challengers from the right. The Labour Party would classify Tamihere on the right too but he will probably have more appeal to many in Labour's constituency, especially Māori, than to conservative or business-minded voters.
It is probably to appeal to the latter constituency that Tamihere is running on a ticket with Christine Fletcher, a former mayor and still a councillor. Fletcher stands to be Deputy Mayor and gives the ticket an element of local body experience that Tamihere lacks.
But, as the long-time chief executive of West Auckland's Waipareira Trust, Tamihere knows his way around parts of local government and he could never be accused of lacking confidence is his own authority. He will doubtless campaign as someone who will give the Auckland Council a shake-up and that is always a popular stance at local elections.
He is vulnerable though to the risk that his own record and behaviour may become just as much an issue in the campaign. He has not dealt well with questions put to him by Simon Wilson in the Herald today.
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His candidacy promises to make it a more interesting campaign than it was shaping up to be. Goff, if he stands again, can probably win. But the shake-up he promised for the council last time has hardly happened. The council still seems detached from the needs and concerns of citizens and may need a new broom.