"Meet the Albany Candidates" evenings will be lively in halls from Browns Bay to Orewa as old foes Cameron Slater and mayoral candidate Andrew Williams trade verbal blows.

"I've five invitations so far and I'll hold him to account," Mr Slater said about Mr Williams, a regular target of his Whale Oil blog.

Mr Williams, who has been North Shore Mayor for three years and wants to be first mayor of the Auckland Council, is nominated for Albany ward.

Mr Slater said it was the mayor's insurance policy.

Entertainment value alone counts for few votes from conservative residents of a ward which is a composite of the fastest growing parts of Rodney, Waitakere and North Shore.

"A sideshow is not needed when we face serious issues," said Linda Cooper, a Waitakere City councillor for six years.

She is standing for Albany on the Citizens & Ratepayers ticket, with lawyer Josephine Kim, a Korean community leader and fellow West Harbour resident.

"Candidates must get their heads around regional thinking and local issues they will need to support," said Mrs Cooper.

Public meetings were a pleasure for Mr Williams at the last elections. He used them as a platform to attack wasteful spending and, in particular, the proposal of Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey and the Infratil company to start commercial flights out of Whenuapai Air Base.

He triumphed, and many of Mr Harvey's critics on the shores of the upper harbour are now lumped in with East Coast Bays folk who also would have been in the flight path.

As far as Mr Williams is concerned, only he and deputy mayor Julia Parfitt are in contention for Albany ward's two seats.

"Most of the others aren't well known and Albany couldn't get a better package - mayor and deputy mayor."

But Mrs Parfitt, who didn't expect Mr Williams to stand in Albany, has another running mate.

He is John Kirikiri, who was appointed deputy mayor in his first term on Rodney District Council.

Campaigning as Proudly Independent, they aim to protect the "north of the bridge" lifestyle from unsympathetic blanket policies.

Mrs Parfitt has been hard-working and influential in a council split into the majority "A team" (A for Andrew's) and the "B Team" ( B for "But, Mr Mayor ... ").

Many of them, including Shore Voice candidate Margaret Miles, had meaningful responsibilities under previous mayor George Wood but have spent three years disappointed, powerless to stop a swiftly moving political bulldozer.

"My job has been making sure council processes work as well as they can," said Mrs Parfitt, a five-term councillor who still teaches part-time.

Mr Kirikiri was a firefighter raised in the East Coast town of Te Araroa near where Whale Rider was filmed. He'll be riding a whale of growth, if elected.

Orewa, Hatfields Beach and Waiwera are expected to double in population to 16,000 in 20 years with more high-rises and subdivision. About 5500 homes are to be built in Silverdale and Orewa West and Gulf Harbour has potential for a further 1000 homes. The Hibiscus Coast could have more than 64,000 residents by 2031.

The part of Albany Central seen from the Northern Motorway is tipped to be home for a further 10,000 and workplace for 10,000 more. Apartments, retirement villages and residential/office blocks are lined up waiting for the economy to revive.

Behind the Long Bay Regional Park in East Coast Bays, houses will be for sale within three years in an eventual development of 2800 homes for up to 7000 people.

At the former Hobsonville Air Base, a 10- to 15-year Hobsonville Point redevelopment covers 3000 homes, a marine industry cluster, super yacht precinct, new shops and schools.

Further along the Western Ring Route, the proposed Westgate Town Centre/Massey North development has room for 5000 homes and industrial expansion.

Rates rebel wants seat at table

A leader of the 2003 regional rates revolt and Orewa residents' fight against high-rise towers is eyeing a seat on a different side of the table in elections for the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board.

John Drury recalls that 40,000 Aucklanders signed the petition against ARC levies which pushed rates bills up 657 per cent.

He doubts his local area of 43,000 will get much rates relief under the Super City but he aims not to be just a voice in the wilderness.

Unsuccessful in the old district council elections, Mr Drury has been encouraged to seek one of the new Hibiscus Coast division's four seats.

He faces strong opposition from Leanne Smith, who has been the driving force of Destination Orewa Beach, and Brian Chamberlin, a former president of Auckland Federated Farmers.

Greg Sayers, a corporate leadership specialist, is another new name on the list of candidates.

However, the 40-year resident points out that in his first and last try in 2001, he nearly pipped John Law for the Rodney mayoral chains.

Mr Sayers and Mr Chamberlin support the Penlink tollway project to shorten the trip between East Coast Bays and Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

In the East Coast Bays division, strong contenders are North Shore City councillors Heather Brown, Julia Parfitt and Lisa Whyte and community board chairman David Cooper. They will be challenged by North Harbour Business Association general manager Gary Holmes.

Rankin's focus on upper harbour

Christine Rankin says she chose the wrong job in becoming an Auckland regional councillor and, being a North Shore girl, should have aimed her sights closer to home.

Three years later, she is doing just that. She is standing for the Upper Harbour Local Board and the Albany ward of the Auckland Council.

"I did not enjoy my time on the ARC. For me, I chose the wrong place to be in local government and I should have been involved in my own council.

"The ARC did not have the connections I was looking for ... I'm not really into controlling other people's lives and that's what it felt like to me.

"I'm into less government not more."

But the ARC goes out of existence on November 1 and the Families Commissioner is concerned about who will protect the character of villages such as Greenhithe, where she has lived for 18 months of her 25 years on the Shore. She is standing on the centre-right North Now ticket, with fellow Greenhithe resident Graeme Hunt, a journalist.

Opposing them are June Kearney, from Citizens and Ratepayers, who is president of Hobsonville Residents Association. She has fought to ensure existing residents do not get overwhelmed by plans to build a town the size of Morrinsville (population 8000) on the former Hobsonville Air Base.

Eighteen candidates for the six seats include Waitakere City councillor Warren Flaunty and North Shore City councillor Callum Blair, who campaigned in the last election against a commercial airport at Whenuapai.

FACTS AND FIGURES
Ethnicity: European 75 per cent, Asian 13 per cent, Maori 6 per cent, Pacific 2 per cent

Born overseas: 38 per cent

Household income: $67,840 (2006)

EYE ON COUNCIL
Uzra Balouch, Independent; Rodney Bell, Independent; Ian Bradley, Independent; Laurie Conder, Independent; David Cooper, Independent; Linda Cooper, Citizens & Ratepayers; Ross Craig, Accountable Independent; Michael Goudie, Independent; Graeme Hunt, North Now; Josephine Kim, Citizens & Ratepayers; John Kirikiri, Proudly Independent; Alan McCulloch, Independent; Margaret Miles, Shore Voice; Brian Neeson, Independent; Julia Parfitt, Proudly Independent; Cameron Slater; Wayne Walker; John Watson (all no ticket stated); Andrew Williams, Independent Progressive Leadership; David Willmott (no ticket stated)

THE SERIES
Today: Albany.
Tomorrow: Manukau.
Wednesday: Whau.
Thursday: Franklin.
Friday: Waitakere.