John Banks is seriously considering a tilt at the Auckland Mayoralty, saying if he stands and is elected he will chair the board of Auckland Transport.
Banks has hired a team of political strategists and held focus groups to determine his chances, telling the Herald today he will make a final decision in the next two weeks.
"Phil Goff's mayoralty reminds me of grandma's boiled cabbage. It never gets better by the day," said the former National MP who entered Parliament with Goff in 1981.
Banks, who is 72 and lives at the Viaduct on the city's waterfront, said he gets approached every day to stand for the mayoralty.
He said the focus groups showed that many people will not vote for a mayoral candidate, Auckland's leadership is colourless and mostly invisible and people want a mayor who understands the city and the effects on people's daily lives.
If no-one steps up to the plate, said Banks, the city faces a democratic disaster and more of the same.
Banks said his team included Topham Guerin, the New Zealand digital and creative agency that helped Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison get re-elected and Andrew Laidlaw, who has worked for the controversial political strategists Crosby Textor. No-one from the established political machinery in New Zealand was involved, he said.
Banks said he would bring innovative ideas to provide financial responsibility, stop wastage and contain debt.
He said there is widespread concern about the lack of accountability by council-controlled organisations and he would seek to change the law so councillors could sit on the boards of all CCOs.
At present, councillors are only allowed to sit on the board of Auckland Transport.
"If I was the next mayor of Auckland I would chair the Auckland Transport board. Within a week I would change the culture and have a direct link of communication between the ratepayers, local communities and the AT board," said Banks.
Asked if he was too long in the tooth to return to politics, Banks said, "Yes, life is running out but I still feel I have got a lot to contribute".
"I'm fit as a fiddle. I walk every day and still fly my aeroplane," he said.
The centre-right has been struggling to find a high profile candidate to take on Goff, who thrashed the centre-right's Vic Crone by 76,000 votes in 2016.
One political source said the centre-right needs to put up a candidate by the end of this month to have any chance of competing with Goff, who is standing as an independent but has the backing of the Labour Party and volunteers at hand.
Banks stood for election at the first Super City elections in 2010 where he was comfortably beaten by Manukau Mayor Len Brown by 66,000 votes.
He was mayor of the former Auckland City Council from 2001 to 2004, a tumultuous term that saw him defeated by the left-leaning businessman Dick Hubbard. A 'transmogrified" John Banks beat Hubbard in the 2007 local body elections, serving out the last term of the old council.