By Friday this week, just three names - Colin Craig, Shannon Gillies and Wayne Young - were registered as contenders for the Supercity mayoralty race.

Others, including present mayors jostling for power - John Banks (Auckland), Len Brown (Manukau) Andrew Williams (North Shore) - and candidates like actor/director Simon Praast and veteran water campaigner Penny Bright will no doubt get around to the paperwork before nominations close at noon on August 20.

Even so, it's slim pickings so far for the job of governing a Supercity larger than Brisbane and with a third of a nation's population.

So what's wrong with the plum job? Why is the line-up of candidates about as lively as a withered prune?

The answers are about as wide and varied as the group of mayoral hopefuls themselves.

Reasons for potential candidates not standing include lack of political experience, lack of money to run a decent campaign, a historic apathy over local body politics (voting numbers are notoriously low), a wait-and-see strategy, chief executives not prepared to stick their necks out for a relatively paltry financial return and a reluctance to have the good, bad and ugly of personal lives scrutinised by the media.

Christine Rankin, an ARC member, is one who is not prepared to expose her dangly chandelier earrings and personal business in public for the sake of a job she considered having a crack at.

Rankin says she has found the past three years as an ARC member "frustrating" and that in hindsight she should have challenged Andrew Williams for the North Shore mayoralty, believing she would have won.

But while she might have considered being mayor of her home turf, the Supercity job is another matter.

Spurred on by groups and members of the public encouraging her to stand for the mayoralty, Rankin gave it serious thought before instead deciding to stand for the council in the North Shore ward on the North New ticket.

One reason the former Work and Income New Zealand chief executive decided against a Rankin-for-mayor campaign was money.

While not quibbling about the $250,000 Supermayoral salary, she was worried about the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to run a powerful campaign.

Supercity mayoral candidates are allowed to spend up to $587,500 on their campaign and Rankin says she's not in that league.

She points to John Banks' "huge" election billboards. "They must cost an absolute fortune and you have got to be able to do that across the whole of Auckland.

"People say to me 'you'll get it back and we'll help you raise money' but it's not that easy ... you have to have an awful lot of money."

Supporters told Rankin she would naturally attract media attention and would not need to mount an expensive campaign but she thinks the big bucks will be needed.

And then there's the media. "The media harass me. They pursue me and they look to destroy any good stuff that surrounds me. They don't actually succeed, I have quite a large following, but it's harrowing."

Rankin says she had "quite a lot of discussion" on the subject with her husband and children after a supporter offered to back her in the run for the mayoralty.

She was "tempted" and thinks she would have "done quite well".

"I think we do need to have someone with a bit of spirit, someone who can make Aucklanders feel great about this city."

But in the end Rankin decided the personal stakes were too high.

"You know, this is the shame about New Zealand, when there are real leaders out there and people who have got courage and people who can change things, we batter them until they go away."

PR and recruitment specialist Michelle Boag agrees, saying with Rankin's "personal issues" the media would have "made mincemeat" of her if she had stood for the Supercity.

Boag blames ferocious and "minuscule scrutiny" of candidates' personal lives and actions for keeping away business leaders who did not welcome that level of exposure.

She doesn't agree that a big bank account is a must.

Someone with a high profile and degree of respect in the community, like Air New Zealand's Rob Fyfe, would not need "a dollar" to stand because of the ready-made profile.

Rankin thinks there will be a number of potential mayoral candidates who will adopt a wait-and-see attitude, watching in the wings to see how the turmoil of the first three Supercity years pans out.

Others in the corporate and business world won't be prepared to take a substantial drop in salary, she says.

"It [the mayoralty] will be very challenging and demanding. And I don't think it pays very well for the enormous responsibility of it.

"It's terrible pay. There are a lot of people who could do the job brilliantly who just don't want that in their lives."

Others doubt a CEO from the corporate world will be able to adjust quickly enough to the political role of a mayor having to liaise with ward councillors, a chief executive and staff, and central Government.

Political commentator Matt McCarten says the difference is that chief executives are used to power in the boardroom whereas politicians - and mayors - need to "win people over".

Business people without political experience underestimate the power of bureaucracy, he says.

"They think they are running a business, they're not. They're running politics ... CEOs make terrible politicians. They are used to everyone agreeing with them and they hate disobedience."

McCarten too thinks the amount of money needed to mount a campaign will shorten the list of names Aucklanders will be able to choose from on October 9.

"If you don't have access to at least half a million, forget it."

And he thinks anyone who hasn't already put their hand in the air and mounted a campaign is too late. "They need to be so dominant in the press and time is running out."

Watching from the wings is Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer. If it hadn't been for his illness, Barnett says he would have entered the super-mayoralty race this year. Instead, he will have a crack at the top job next time around. Right now he, like others, wonders where is the strong competition for the job.

"I would have liked to see more competition because it would have forced those who are standing to really fight for that role - the good lines, the good vision, the promises, really pushed themselves forward."

Barnett thinks tactics used by present mayors John Banks and Len Brown - to enter the race early and indulge in a "huge amount of chest thumping" - has scared off potential Johnny-come-latelys with the message "don't even consider running if you can't do better than this".

Barnett also thinks there will be a fair few "watching and watching from the ringside" and predicts a "much stronger lineup" in three years' time.

Like others, he thinks Auckland suffers from a degree of apathy when it comes to local body politics.

Barnett doesn't think the money needed to mount a campaign is a "biggie". He estimates he would have needed to find between a $100,000 and $150,000 and use networks to get backers for the rest.

"And it might not be in cash, it might be your mates that run a magazine or someone who has a truck or container you can put something on the side."

The $250,000 salary was also not a stumbling block, saying from his viewpoint he wouldn't care if he was paid "a 100 grand or 500 grand."

He, too, doubts that a CEO fresh from the corporate world would fit seamlessly into the mayoralty role.

"For someone who hasn't been in politics it's a huge leap. They are used to making a decision in the boardroom and going out and implementing it.

In politics it doesn't happen that way. It's more about the process and the process is what takes time and causes costs and frustration."

Auckland millionaire businessman, military man and Harvard graduate Tenby Powell is waiting to see how the mayoral candidates poll before deciding whether to join the race.

In the meantime he's standing for the Waitemata and Gulf ward, a move that will gain him local body political experience.

Powell is among those who are impatient with Auckland's apparent apathy. "Why care about something that nobody else cares about?"

Aucklanders need to decide if they want "proven leadership experience" or do they "just want politicians", he says. He also questions why the Supercity mayoralty hasn't attracted more top executives and a stronger range of candidates.

Powell says if he were to run for the mayoralty it would not be for the money. He and his wife, Sharon Hunter, have earned "plenty" already. But he questions why the Supercity mayor will be paid $250,000 while the city's chief executive, Doug Mackay, is on $675,000 a year with a $76,500 incentive. "Isn't it interesting that the CEO gets that amount of money and yet the mayor gets a third of that?

"That sends a signal that clearly what we want is a figurehead mayor who is a good ribbon-cutter and wants to open stuff, like a new stadium.

"These are the confusing signals that I'm still pondering over in what to do with this whole thing. I'm certainly not doing it for the money ... but at the same time I'm a huge believer in rewards for a job well done."

Powell questions what "really is going on here. Are we serious about attracting the right calibre of people? You put $1 million on the job and you will get a very, very different group of people applying ... except you can't apply."

Which brings Powell to his next point - the "shameless self-promotion" candidates need to go through to get themselves elected.

"It's not the sort of thing that some people will want to put themselves through."

Powell dismisses the argument that the country's CEOs do not have enough political experience to tackle the job, arguing that business leaders are "consummate politicians".

"You don't order a team to do stuff. Invariably it is about building a team around a culture, selecting the right team, how to deliver value for money to the citizens of Auckland and do stuff for the greater good at the same time."

Powell doesn't think good potential candidates should sit on the sidelines and wait to see how the first three years go, saying lack of action could damage New Zealand.

"If we fail this, we fail New Zealand. Auckland is the economic centre of New Zealand and if we stuff this up we will be left with a legacy of problems for years to come."

If Aucklanders sit back and "let people make decisions who are not qualified to do so, it will be a nightmare to undo," he says.

While various names of potential candidates have been bandied about, they are conspicuously absent from the mayoralty race.

Warehouse baron Stephen Tindall denied he was running and his PA told the Herald on Sunday that her boss would "prefer not to comment on that topic at the moment".

Asked if she had considered throwing her hat into the mayoral ring, Michelle Boag retorted "hell no". Local government is not "my thing" she says.

And broadcaster and columnist Paul Holmes would this week not comment on the line-up of candidates, why more hadn't stood or why he hadn't put his name forward.

Christine Rankin is still pondering: "I guess it's still not too late".

But a word of advice from Boag: "Politics is a very special business. You don't do it for the power and the glory, it's a lot of work, a huge commitment.

"You need a huge amount of tolerance and an extremely wide set of shoulders."