COMMENT:

Justin Lester could be facing a challenge from across his own council table for Wellington's mayoralty.

Councillor Diane Calvert will neither confirm nor deny rumours she's planning on having a crack at the top job.

It's a change of tune for the first-term councillor, who said she wasn't considering the mayoralty when asked at the end of last year.

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But fast forward eight months and there's a serious lack of competition in the country's capital city heading into local body elections.

A mayoral bid at this stage would come at the eleventh hour, with candidate nominations closing at the end of next week.

Justin Lester only has one vocal opponent in Wellington City's mayoral race. Photo / Georgina Campbell.
Justin Lester only has one vocal opponent in Wellington City's mayoral race. Photo / Georgina Campbell.

Lester launched his campaign in May and his only vocal opponent, Conor Hill, announced he was running in July.

Wellington City Council records also show Norbert Hausberg, a puppeteer and trained teacher, has put his hat in the ring.

Calvert is known to be an outspoken councillor around the table. She's a nitpicker for detail while Lester is more of a big-picture man.

The mayoral race would certainly be turned up a notch if she went ahead with a bid.

Calvert, an independent who uses the colour aubergine for her campaign because it represents "a good blend of blue and red topped off with green", is facing the Labour machine at home in her ward and in any mayoral bid she makes.

Labour is standing Rebecca Matthews in the Onslow-Western Ward.

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Lester has already made thousands of calls on her behalf and has joined her on door-knocking expeditions.

The ward is a stronghold for current councillors Simon Woolf and Andy Foster, leaving Calvert as a target.

Labour is running Rebecca Matthews in the Onslow-Western ward. Photo / Supplied.
Labour is running Rebecca Matthews in the Onslow-Western ward. Photo / Supplied.

But Woolf and Calvert have presented themselves as quite a team this year.

That relationship would pay off in any mayoral bid Calvert made. By offering Woolf the deputy mayor gig, she'd secure a swell of extra votes.

The most recent example of the tag-team was at a select committee hearing over the bus fiasco where Wellington City Council was called in for another "please explain".

It's understood Calvert and Woolf organised to speak on a bus commuter survey they conducted without telling Lester, in a bid to take him by surprise.

It begs the question whether Calvert is trying to do the same with a mayoral campaign.

Her playing coy could be to test the water for a mayoral bid, or it could be a profile-building exercise, or an effort to keep her cards close to her chest.