Dame Susan Devoy has withdrawn from the Tauranga mayoralty race for family reasons.
Dame Susan said in a statement this morning that a "genuine and unforeseen" family situation had arisen since she announced her candidacy last month.
The situation meant Dame Susan, a former race relations commissioner and New Zealand squash champion, would not be available during the campaign period.
"I am passionate about Tauranga, the city where we raised our four boys. However, I really do worry about the direction the city is currently going in – which is why I put my hat in the ring, to make a positive difference," Dame Susan said.
"This mayoralty campaign is so important for the residents and I urge them to vote for strong and strategic leadership.
"It is also imperative that we look carefully at who is on our council; we need a cohesive council that work in positively with the incoming mayor and CEO.
"I love Tauranga and look forward to it being a strong and prosperous city for future generations.
"All the best for the candidates, I look forward to voting for a positive change."
Dame Susan is overseas and not expected to return until later this month.
Dawn Kiddie, co-organiser of the upcoming public Meet the Mayoral Candidates event, said it was disappointing to see Dame Susan drop out as she was someone who seemed able to "get the job done".
"She's an amazing woman, but it is understandable that family has to come first."
Seven candidates were expected to attend the event on Tuesday.
They were incumbent Mayor Greg Brownless; current Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout; businessman Tenby Powell; former Bella Vista director Danny Cancian; Rangimarie Kingi-Bosma, who was also running for Rotorua Mayor; Greerton pastor Les Wallen and former city councillor Murray Guy.
Kiddie said each candidate would have four minutes to introduce themselves then 2.5 minutes each to answer randomly drawn audience questions.
A few local groups would also be able to ask the candidates questions, including Fix the Bloody Road, Tauranga City Council Exposed and Mt Maunganui Ratepayers, Residents and Retailers.
Kiddie said the event would not be a debate but an opportunity for the candidates to introduce themselves and their visions for the city and have their say on some key issues.
There is still a month to go before candidate nominations officially open, but Kiddie said there was already so much interest in the race for Mayor the event had to find a bigger venue.
MEET THE MAYORAL CANDIDATES
Time: 7pm to 9.30pm
Where: Tauranga Girls' College hall
Cost: Gold coin donation.
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2019: KEY DATES
July 1: Enrolment update packs sent to all enrolled voters
July 19: Candidate nominations open
August 16: Candidate nominations and voter enrolments (printed roll) close
August 21: Candidate names published
September 20-25: Voting documents sent out
October 12: Voting closes at midday.
Source - Electoral Commission