The Labour Party ticket in the Whau ward has torn itself apart in one of the most bitter rows in Auckland local government for years.
The end result is Whau Local Board chair Tracy Mulholland has quit the Labour Party and joined National's de facto ticket Communities and Residents (C&R) to challenge Labour's Ross Clow for the ward seat.
The fallout has involved senior members of the Labour Party, including former party president Nigel Haworth, who was brought in to broker a peace.
I'm not standing against anyone but for action on climate change, housing and supporting our communities
Other senior party figures privately stood up for Mulholland's hard work, leadership and achievements and criticised the way she was hounded off the Whau ticket.
It has been a bruising experience for Mulholland, the head of the New Lynn Business Association, who was approached by former Labour leader David Cunliffe and encouraged by Clow to stand for the board on the Labour ticket in 2016.
Mulholland said she was shocked at being told to toe the Labour Party line after being elected and made chair of the Whau Local Board.
"My duty as chair was to represent all of our community. I didn't caucus and pre-determine outcomes," is how Mulholland describes her response to the expectations placed on her.
Clow is disappointed at how the board has "fallen apart", saying Mulholland was autocratic, alienated board members and unable to manage the politics.
He said as Whau councillor and de facto leader of the Labour ticket he tried to keep the team together, including a text to Mulholland on the last day of Labour nominations asking her to stay with the party and local body politics.
Clow is appalled at how she resigned from the party on June 17 and launched in a "blue dress" 10 days later as a candidate for C&R.
"I didn't know she had been effectively scheming and working with Daniel Newman [a councillor devising a strategy against 'Team Goff' at the elections] and C&R for some months," Clow said.
Newman said he actively encouraged Mulholland to stand after she was treated atrociously by the Labour Party, "leaving Clow scrambling after being too complacent for too long".
Mulholland said Clow was not inclusive and wanted to be the boss of the community. She said on one occasion she stood up to Clow when he wanted her to change a decision by the board and "he stormed out of the office all flustered and angry".
She also accuses Clow of being a "fat cat" - a reference to his three public roles as a councillor, a member of the Portage Licensing Trust and a member of its pokies division.
The West Auckland Licensing Trusts are another hot issue at the local body elections with a group campaigning for an end to the Portage and Waitakere Trusts' grip on pub and bottle shop licences, concerns about transparency and a row about paying staff the Living Wage.
Clow is paid $132,579 as the chair of council's finance committee. He said he earns $30,000 as chair of the licensing trust and $20,000 plus meeting fees as a director of its pokies division.
Clow said he worked long hours as a fulltime councillor and in his trust roles - and pointed out Daniel Newman is also standing as a councillor and for the Wiri Licensing Trust.
It is really a beat up, he said, saying Mulholland had failed to declare as a conflict of interest her contracting role on the New Lynn Business Association at one Local Board meeting.
Mulholland is paid $88,158 as chair of the Whau Local Board. She still has a contract with the New Lynn Business Association, saying "what they pay is private business". It is not unusual for local board members to have outside jobs.
There's a general feeling the inner west ward of Whau is making good progress, particularly after decades of neglect in the areas managed by the former Auckland City Council.
A new $21 million library and community centre for Avondale is in the design stages with construction set to begin next year, and the signs are promising for a $104m swimming pool and recreation centre in the ward, possibly in Avondale.
More than $400m has been poured into New Lynn, much of that into the new rail trench and station that opened in 2010, a new town centre taking shape and the large scale West Edge housing development by the Chinese-owned Avanda Group.
Naturally, Clow and Mulholland are keen to claim credit for progress in the ward and promising to complete these and other projects, including the Whau coastal walkway, a joint project with the Henderson-Massey Local Board and council. The 11.8km project will link the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours with 3.2km of connecting paths.
Clow, a second term councillor, said he had lobbied very well for Whau with the strong support of successive Local Boards, and as chair of the finance committee "spread the butter" so every Local Board gets one big project in the 10-year budget.
For Whau, it is a new swimming pool and recreation centre to serve the West. Clow would like to see the pool built in Avondale, possibly on 15ha of public space set aside on the Avondale racecourse.
"The crucial thing we have facing us in Avondale is not enough green space," Clow said.
As well as campaigning local issues, including more park and rides near Avondale and affordable housing, Clow wants to stick around for six more years to see the $4.4 billion City Rail Link open to make for a modern city and cut 20 minutes off rail commutes from Avondale to Britomart.
Mulholland said her term had been about listening and delivering for the people of Whau, including securing funding for the swimming pool and recreation centre and securing the site and funding for the new library and community centre.
For someone who wants to escape from "old-school politicking by old-school politicians", Mulholland is standing on C&R's centre-right platform of "better value for your rates" and the anti-Goff B team platform to change the behaviour of council and council-controlled organisations (CCOs).
"My observation is that there is an A and B team at Auckland Council. This is not an acceptable scenario for our residents. I am a candidate for Whau because I have learnt that at the Government body the power is in the hands of a few who have political associations," Mulholland said.
The Green Party is standing candidates for the Whau ward and Local Board for the first time in 2019.
Ward candidate Jessamine Fraser, who has an architecture practice in Rosebank Rd, said local Greens are interested in getting involved in the area and offering voters a choice with a contest of ideas.
Fraser is interested in wider issues of how the city works in terms of the environment and building social and economic equity in people's lives.
Locally, she is concerned about denser housing leading to gentrification and pushing out people who currently live in the area and bring vibrancy in terms of diversity, art and music.
Fraser strongly supports state housing, council housing and co-housing to create equity in the housing market and prevent people being shunted further and further from the city. She also supports the Whau coastal walkway.
"I'm not standing against anyone but for action on climate change, housing and supporting our communities," she said.
Other ward candidates are Paul Davie, a member of the Portage Licensing Trust who lost his job as a real estate agent this year over social media posts critical of Muslims and multiculturalism; and Anne Degia-Pala, standing as an independent.
Avondale Action Group opposes sale of council land
Avondale has been crying out for some love - and it looks like help is on the way for the rundown town centre.
In this term of council, Whau Local Board and councillor Ross Clow have secured $21 million to replace Avondale's crumbling, black mould-ridden community centre with a combined library and community centre, and $105 million for a new swimming pool and recreation centre for West Auckland that could be located in the suburb.
Jaclyn Bonnici, co-ordinator of Avondale Community Action, said amazing stuff is happening in Avondale at grass roots level, in the arts, culture and music, and the suburb is feeling better than it has for a long time.
The group of individuals and organisations working towards a better future for the community is pleased with progress to upgrade the town's facilities but wants the land occupied by the old community centre preserved for public space.
Under a deal to fund the new community centre and library, council's development arm Panuku will sell the old community centre site - and that rankles with Bonnici.
She said it is the last significant piece of council-owned land in the town centre and should be kept for a big population surge coming to Avondale.
"We are really pro residential build in Avondale but really worried about the loss of gathering spaces, green spaces, play spaces and just wonder where all these people in apartment spaces are going to go.
"We would much rather see the Local Board and Ross fight for the investment in the new build, but the retention of that piece of land to see it converted to something for community benefit," she said.
The name Whau is from the estuarine arm of the Waitemata Harbour, which extends into the area.
The southern area is primarily residential with many local schools, and there are significant industrial areas in Kelston and along the Rosebank Peninsula. New Lynn is the primary retail shopping area, with Avondale providing a secondary site nearby.
Transport has always been a major issue in the area. It is one of the narrowest parts of the isthmus and both Māori and Pakeha had portage routes between the harbours, and therefore between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Ethnicity: European 45 per cent, Asian 35 per cent, Pasifika 18 per cent, Māori 9 per cent
Median age: 34.9 years
Median household income: $63,900
Incumbent councillor: Ross Clow
Avondale town centre
Finding a location for the new swimming pool/recreation centre
A councillor and board that can work together
Ross Clow (Labour), Paul Davie (Community Independents), Anne Degia-Pala (Independent), Jessamine Fraser (Green Party), Tracy Mulholland (C&R - Communities and Residents)
Local Board candidates
Fasitua Amosa (Labour), Aadil Basha, Ami Chand (Labour), Kathryn Davie (Community Independents), Paul Davie (Community Independents), Wayne Davis (Independent), Alston D'Silva (C&R - Communities and Residents), Moses Faleolo (C&R - Communities and Independents), Catherine Farmer (Labour), Jessamine Fraser (Green Party), Warwick Frederikson (Independent), Jitesh Ganatra (C&R - Communities and Residents), Te'eva Matafai (Labour), Sandra Paterson (C&R - Communities and Residents), Warren Piper (Independent), Anne Riley (C&R - Communities and Residents), Jessica Rose (Green Party), Reuben Shadbolt (Independent), John Subritzy (C&R - Communities and Residents), Kay Thomas (Labour), Uesifili Unasa (Labour), Sara Watson (C&R - Communities and Residents), Lawrence Watt (Green Party), Howie Yin (Independent), Susan Zhu (Labour).
Over the next two weeks the Herald is reporting on six wards where the contest is the especially fierce.
Today Sep 23:
Wednesday Sep 25:
Friday Sep 27:
Monday Sep 30:
Wednesday Oct 2:
Friday Oct 4: