Labour councillor Efeso Collins says he is running for the Auckland mayoralty, creating a potential problem for the left at October's local body elections.
Talk is mounting in left circles that Auckland Mayor Phil Goff will not seek a third term at October's local body elections and endorse a rising star on council, North Shore councillor Richard Hills, to stand as his successor.
A potential contest between Manukau councillor Collins and Hills would split the left vote that has bedded in
Len Brown and Phil Goff as the only two mayors since the Super City was formed in 2010 - and give the centre-right a sniff of victory.
Goff and Hills have both said they will be announcing their plans in the "coming weeks". Goff, a former Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, could be in line for a diplomatic posting.
Collins has told Stuff and The Spinoff he is standing, only days after telling the Herald he was "extremely keen" to run for the mayoral job.
He has been calling for Labour to hold a selection process for a mayoral candidate - with little success.
The Samoan councillor has a big media profile, regularly appearing on television, but is out of favour with the party, despite his strong links into the Pasifika and South Auckland communities, charisma and oratory skills.
Actions, like opposing Goff's regional fuel tax because of the impact it would have on poor families, and criticism of the Government's Covid response and vaccination rollout, have not endeared him to the party.
On the other hand, Hills has shown unflinching loyalty to Labour and had a meteoric rise at council since being elected as a North Shore councillor in 2016 at age 30. He's a member of Goff's inner circle and chairs the environment and climate change committee.
The 2022 election race will be lacking any heavyweight candidates if Goff decides to step down after two terms.
High profile candidates outside the council include restaurateur Leo Molloy and Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck, who is set to put her hat into the ring any day with the backing of the centre-right Communities and Residents ticket.
Other candidates are Craig Lord, who came a distant third in 2019 with 30,000 votes, Jake Law, whose grandfather John Law was mayor of Rodney District Council, and lawyer Ted Johnston.