Recent criticism said leadership race was between mediocre candidates in a ‘battle of accountants’ and called for big ideas to make the city rock. Super City reporter Bernard Orsman asked contenders how they’ll do that.

Phil Goff: Voice of experience

Will Phil Goff be a little wild, a little different? The answer is no.

"I'm not here to entertain, create headlines or be a singing mayor," Goff tells the Herald.

"I want to go about the job in a workmanlike way - but I also want to inspire Aucklanders.

"Do I have big ideas for Auckland? Do I have a passion for Auckland? Of course I do," says Goff, whose biggest idea is light rail on the isthmus and possibly to the airport.


The political veteran is the front-runner to be the next mayor of Auckland, according to a recent Spinoff/SSI poll and other anecdotal polls.

He has more name recognition than any other candidate and a reputation as a hard-working, competent Cabinet minister in two Labour Governments since going to Parliament 35 years ago.

The Labour MP for Mt Roskill, who is standing as an independent, wants to use his skills and experience to work with central Government to solve the "overwhelmingly obvious problems" for Auckland - housing affordability and traffic congestion.

And get the funding to put the infrastructure in place to cope with the city's rampant growth.

To do that, Goff will expect the Government to pay its fair share of growth from 45,000 migrants a year and push for a petrol tax and road tolls to build new infrastructure.

It's a big ask. The Government has not ruled out road pricing in Auckland, but is certainly cool on the idea.

With city finances stretched, Goff is also keen on infrastructure bonds, expanding the Government's $1 billion infrastructure fund and public private partnerships to fund growth.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson
I want to go about the job in a workmanlike way - but I also want to inspire Aucklanders. Do I have big ideas for Auckland? Do I have a passion for Auckland? Of course I do.

Goff's housing policy calls for an easing of migrants until transport and housing infrastructure can cope with growth. Like his rivals, he promises to hold down rates, cut fat and keep the bureaucrats on a short leash.


He wants to turn round the culture at Auckland Council.

Pointedly, he says a poll showing 15 per cent of Aucklanders are satisfied with council is "deeply corrosive" to local democracy.

Polishing Auckland's reputation at home and abroad as a global city is another focus. Goff's slogan is "a city where talent and enterprise can thrive".

Goff supports the thrust of the Unitary Plan, the city rail link, light rail and a living wage for council staff. He will not sell airport shares, privatise water or waterfront land occupied by Ports of Auckland, but is open about the future of the port business. Port expansion into the Waitemata Harbour is out the question. Directors of the council-owned port business who thumb their nose at a council directive "can and should be replaced", Goff has stated.

As leader of the opposition in 2010, Goff called the directors of council-controlled organisations (CCOs) a "clique of cronies".

He will demand more transparency and accountability from the CCOs, which many locals believe have got too big for their boots.

If elected, Goff will not be there to cut ribbons and manage the status quo. "I am there to get the changes that Auckland needs. In Rachel Hunter's words - 'it won't happen overnight, but it will happen'."

Political veteran
Age: 63

Family: Married with three adult children

Career: Labour MP for Mt Roskill. First entered Parliament in 1991. Former Cabinet minister and leader of the opposition

Vic Crone: Businesslike approach

Join Tristram Clayton as he asks Mayoral candidate Vic Crone the questions we want to know!

Vic Crone says she is offering Aucklanders a choice at this election. Her corporate CV against Phil Goff's political CV. Her best years against Goff's twilight years. Her forward-looking vision of a city where driverless buses and apps such as Uber are making the traditional redundant.

Crone is the independent, centre-right candidate with the backing of senior National Party figures. She threw her hat in the mayoral ring nine months ago.

The 43-year-old, solo mother of two teenage daughters, has had senior leadership roles with Telecom, Chorus and at the New Zealand helm of software accounting firm Xero. Less than two years into the role she resigned to run for mayor.

"It's now or never," Crone told the Herald in January.

Crone has since sought to let Aucklanders get to know her, her style and vision for the Super City. In local government, where name recognition is everything, this hasn't been easy and she has acknowledged the underdog status.

Working alongside the new centre-right Auckland Future ticket (another National Party creation), Crone has developed a fiscal policy not much different to Goff. She would cap household rates at 2 per cent, reduce staff costs by 5-10 per cent and find savings of $500 million. This is on top of $200m of efficiency savings a year since amalgamation.

When it comes to big ideas to make the city rock, Crone plans to move the port and create something "truly wonderful" on the waterfront.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson
I want to inject a bloody bomb under [council] and get action for Auckland.

She announced another bold policy at her campaign launch - fast-tracking the Government-led second harbour crossing with council chipping in $750m for rapid public transport. Days earlier, she told a public meeting in Milford that roads, not rail, were a priority for a new crossing. A week is a long time in politics.

Politics are probably the reason she has remained quiet on the city rail link, but when pushed she supports the city's biggest project "100 per cent". She is not a fan of light rail to the airport but wants to complete heavy rail from Onehunga and provide transport options for 40,000 new workers.

She does not support petrol taxes, congestion charges or asset sales if public private partnerships and other investment tools can relieve the ratepayer purse.

Crone opposes a living wage for council workers. Her approach with central government will be businesslike, working on a common page with both sides delivering their side of the bargain. She will put the "control" back into council-controlled organisations (CCOs).

The lack of trust and satisfaction between council and Auckland also has to shift, and fast.

"I want to inject a bloody bomb under them and get action for Auckland," she said at her launch.

Can she make the crossover from business to politics? "Absolutely." Crone says businesses are political beasts and claims to have forged a "common vision" with centre-right and independent councillors. "There is nothing naive about the environment I am going into. I am completely eyes open."

Corporate dynamo
Age: 43

Family: Single mother with two teenage daughters

Career: Senior leadership roles with Telecom, Chorus and Xero

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

John Palino: Reduce rates and work better

I am a people person with the ability to listen and find solutions. I work extremely hard and I am passionate about Auckland.

As mayor, I'll combine my work ethic with my desire to serve the people of Auckland to deliver a better Auckland for the residents of today and tomorrow.

My plan for a new city providing jobs and homes is a response to calls from the people of Auckland to retain their city's character without compromising the needs of future residents.

By providing a rates reduction and improving the operation of the Auckland Council, I am answering the public's calls for a council which serves their needs.

I'll be a great mayor of Auckland, one who delivers a fairer, more affordable and more prosperous region.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

Penny Bright: Fiercely independent watchdog

"Activists" get things done!

I'm fiercely and genuinely politically independent and can work with anyone effectively on an "issue by issue" basis. My proven track record is 20 years' experience in Auckland local government, defending the public and the public interest, as a self-funded anti-privatisation and anti-corruption "public watchdog".

I will open the books, cut the contractors and bring council services and regulatory functions back "in house" to help make rates, transport, water and housing affordable. I oppose council-controlled organisations (CCOs), public private partnerships and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Council (and CCOs) will be held accountable. If you don't want political and corporate cronyism. If you want a people's mayor'. If you want to help make history!

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

David Hay: Bringing a green focus to city

My vision is Cool Auckland: Carbon Zero by 2060 or Sooner. Cities all over the world are stepping up to deal with climate change. Auckland is already part of that movement.

I want us to be great by doing more, and going faster. If I am elected mayor, reducing carbon emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change will become the context for all of our planning and investment decisions. I have 25 years' experience working in the public service, including 10 years at Manukau City and Auckland Council. I know this council's strengths and weaknesses, what needs changing, and how to change it. I will make the super city work for Auckland.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

Mark Thomas: Team builder

I know what we need to do to get Auckland working better.

My six years as part of Auckland Council combined with more than 20 years leading and working with very large businesses gives me a strong sense of the challenges we face in Auckland but more importantly of the opportunities we have for more certain progress.

Using the council relationships I have developed, I will build a team committed to an Auckland that works.

This will mean moving investment early into our key transport priorities and fast-tracking development of more affordable housing, particularly in the significant areas that council controls.

Other candidates

Mario Alupis

Campaigning on 'let's make Auckland great again'.

Aileen Austin Conservation educator offering fair rates and reducing debt.

Patrick Brown Communist League candidate calling for a massive programme of public works to provide jobs.

Tricia Cheel on a platform of Stop Trashing Our Planet.

Alezix Heneti Auckland security guard and former Hamilton mayoral candidate.

Adam Holland Auckland Legalise Cannabis candidate.

Susanna Kruger Auckland business school owner.

Stan Martin First generation Aucklander of Pasifika/European descent.

Binh Thanh Nguyen Promoting tidal and wave power on the West Coast.

Phil O'Connor Christians Against Abortion candidate.

Tyrone Raumati wants the fundamentals for wellbeing and success available to all.

Chloe Swarbrick Youngest candidate at 22 wants to be the voice of Auckland's future.

Wayne Young promises council works, housing departments and breaking up CCOs.