Former Telecom boss Theresa Gattung is believed to be seriously thinking about standing for the Auckland mayoralty next year, sources have told the Weekend Herald.
Ms Gattung and Labour MP Phil Goff are the two biggest names to emerge to challenge Len Brown, who has not said if he will seek a third term. Last night, Mr Goff said he had still not made a final decision, but sources close to the MP put the odds on him standing at 95 per cent.
"I know Theresa. She is a nice person who has done a high-powered job as chief executive of Telecom and I wish her the best in the decision if she is thinking seriously about it," Mr Goff said.
Ms Gattung is the first high-profile candidate on the centre-right to possibly challenge Mr Brown, whose job is on the line after a highly publicised affair, criticism about the city's finances and rocky relations with Wellington.
She led Telecom from 1999 to 2007, and is now focused on the fast-growing food delivery business, My Food Bag, a couple of start-up companies and her own charitable foundation supporting mainly women's causes.
Former National Party president Michelle Boag said she heard a rumour two to three months ago about Ms Gattung standing for the mayoralty but nothing since then.
"A strong woman would be very competitive in the city offering diversity and distinction from other candidates we have had in recent times. I detect a lot of anger around rate rises and an unwillingness to consider releasing assets not being used. Someone with serious business experience would be a great asset for the city in this climate," Ms Boag said.
A personal assistant for Ms Gattung yesterday told the Weekend Herald : "Theresa has no comment to make on the matter."
Mr Goff, whose role as Auckland issues spokesman for Labour is seen a springboard to seek the mayoralty, saw the key issues as traffic congestion, inadequate infrastructure, a growing population, housing affordability and fiscal prudence.
He is expected to make a final decision early next year.
Other names include former Auckland City mayor John Banks, National MP Maurice Williamson, Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett and deputy mayor Penny Hulse.
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, who ran for mayor in 2010, said his first priority was to national politics, but he had not ruled out running.
• Phil Goff:
Mt Roskill MP and former Labour Party leader.
• Theresa Gattung: Former Telecom boss. Not commenting on rumours she is interested.
• Len Brown: The embattled incumbent, hanging in there for now.
• John Banks: Former Auckland City Mayor, who cannot be discounted.
• Michael Barnett: Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive, who has not matched talk about standing with action.
• Penny Hulse: Brown's loyal deputy mayor, who says she will never stand against him.
• Maurice Williamson: National MP, who keeps toying with the idea.
• Colin Craig: Focusing on national politics, but who knows?