A candidate to challenge Phil Mauger's Christchurch mayoral bid has officially emerged four months before the local government election determines Lianne Dalziel's successor. Chris Barclay details the key support crew behind the city councillor and new contender, former Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates.
First-term city councillor Sam MacDonald does not have an official role with Phil Mauger's campaign.
The former electoral chair for then National Party minister Gerry Brownlee will serve as an adviser for the high profile businessman.
MacDonald, who is seeking re-election in the Waimairi Ward under the right-leaning Independent Citizen banner, described himself as Mauger's "eyes and ears" from a financial perspective.
"I've been very clear, with my chartered accounting background, that I'm happy to support Phil purely because he's pragmatic.
"He doesn't put up with the bureaucratic nonsense that can often happen in big organisations like this.
"Everyone at the council now has worked with Phil," MacDonald said.
"There's an existing relationship even for the ones that sometimes may not agree with him. They understand how he operates."
MacDonald identified fellow Independent Citizens representative James Gough (Waimairi) as another source of assistance ahead of the polls on October 8.
"There will be a range of people that will help out.
"From a commercial, institutional knowledge point of view James will be right in the thick of that," he said.
MacDonald was surprised at the timing of Meates announcement.
"There's an air of arrogance about it," he said.
"To me, it's like 'I can just check back into the city and become the mayor'.
"Phil has been out there for three years at least doing the hard graft, understanding the issues."
Australian-born Erin Jamieson, a partner at Convergence PR, is co-ordinating a Mauger campaign for the second time, following his election as a first-time city councillor for Burwood in 2019.
The award-winning public relations and strategic communications expert also worked on two successful mayoral campaigns for Gary Moore's successor, Sir Bob Parker.
Said Jamieson: "I've been doing this for a long time, I've been involved in political strategies and working with candidates for probably 15 years."
Jamieson also worked with the West Coast District Health Board in the aftermath of the Pike River mining disaster.
The late starter in the race for the mayoralty has one of Dalziel's predecessors to lean on, three-term mayor Garry Moore as an advocate and sounding board.
Meates is due back from a year-long contract as a specialist health systems adviser with the UK's National Health Service on Sunday - and Moore is keen to strategise as soon as the jet lag allows.
"He's a quiet, quite a humble leader and what we need in Christchurch, and New Zealand to an extent, is people who bring people together," Moore said.
"You can't be a show pony doing that sort of thing.
"You need to actually have brains and modesty and I think he's got both attributes."
Moore was approached by Meates several months ago and decided to join the bid as a 'team member'.
"There's nothing like an old gargoyle sitting in the corner going 'Nah, that won't work'," Moore told The Star.
"I was looking to support someone who could see the big picture.
"One of the more challenging groups (to work together) in our society are doctors, and he succeeded with that brilliantly.
"David led a good system and that's what the council needs to get right, right now.
"This post-earthquake thinking, this is a chance for us to select a mayor who will take us to the next stage.
"We need a strong voice for Christchurch because Christchurch and the South Island gets forgotten in Wellington.
"We need somebody who's fought for resources for Christchurch.
"David did that for the CDHB and he paid the price," Moore said of Meates decision to quit the post in 2020.
Meates' campaign secretary Aaron Campbell, a keen photographer and former community board member, was Dalziel's campaign manager when she was re-elected in 2016 and 2019.
"I'd never volunteered or done any (campaign) work before Lianne," said Campbell, who also has a background in catering.
Campbell was tight-lipped on the identity of other individuals assisting Meates.
"There's a number of people on the team providing advice and speciality roles," he said.