Auckland mayor Phil Goff has told his supporters it may be a tight-run race to win a second term.
A month out from postal voting papers hitting letterboxes, Goff spent an unusual amount of time at his campaign launch attacking his main rival, John Tamihere, who believes the tide has turned in his favour.
After showing off his dance skills at the Diversity Centre in Papatoetoe today - Goff got up to dance to singing by a 10-year-old Samoan girl, Pearl Pita - the mayor said voters had a choice.
They could choose between an inclusive, progressive and world-class city and a Tamihere mayoralty that will set Auckland back, Goff said.
He was addressing about 120 supporters that included six Labour MPs and several left-leaning councillors. Deputy mayor Bill Cashmore, a member of the National Party, also attended.
Goff later told journalists he had no polling information to suggest he is in trouble but referred to the collapse of other candidates on the right. Last week, John Palino pulled out of the mayoral contest and endorsed Tamihere.
"I regard Tamihere as being an on the right candidate. Everything he says about privatisation would suggest that. I think you may see a consolidation of votes there and I'm not complacent about this.
"I think you have to anticipate this will be a close race and this is how we are treating it," said Goff.
At the 2016 election, Goff thrashed the centre-right candidate, Vic Crone, by 187,622 votes to 111,731 votes.
Tamihere told the Herald a "lightning rod has happened and a switch gone on" in the past two weeks and he was confident of sweeping to power when postal voting closes on October 12.
"A Tamihere mayoralty will set Auckland back; my next term will take Auckland forward," Goff said.
After making transport, housing and improving democracy his big goals in 2016, Goff prioritised clean transport, the environment and climate change for a second term.
Among his promises are for council to buy only electric or hybrid vehicles from next year, speeding up the move from diesel to electric buses and extending the Government's rebate for low-emission vehicles to help pay for electric buses.
Working with the Government to achieve lower emissions targets, Goff wants a third of cars to be electric before 2030, to raise emission standards on new cars to levels set in Japan in 2014 and to improve car occupancy from the average current level of 1.5 to 2 by 2030.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Goff also promised to make a start on electrifying the rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe within two years, which Transport Minister Phil Twyford, who was at the launch, said was a reasonable aspiration.
Twyford said the Government has started the policy process of considering a rebate for electric buses and will work closely with the Auckland Council and Auckland Transport on the proposal.
"My opponent is stuck in the past, and has no answers for the congestion, pollution and climate-change challenges Auckland faces now," Goff said.
"Spending more time in traffic jams while our city chokes on petrol fumes is not the future Aucklanders want, but that will be the result if my opponent is elected."
Goff, who in his first term introduced new rates for water and the environment, an 11.5 cents a litre regional petrol tax and a bed tax, said he had no plans for any new rates or taxes in his second term.
Asked about other revenue sources, Goff said a new financing model for people to buy cheaper homes in exchange for paying higher rates and water bills could be used more.
The scheme works by the Government and private investors paying the upfront cost of new transport and water infrastructure, which is recouped by charging new residents higher rates and water bills over a 20- to 30-year period.