16 Aug 2022

Auckland mayoralty race becoming 'a cult of personality', minor candidates say

7:35 am on 16 August 2022

Auckland's minor mayoralty candidates are arguing they are not being given a fair shake in comparison to their high profile counterparts.

AUCKLAND, NZ - MAY 29:Traffic on Queen street with the Skytower in the background on May 29 2013.It's a major commercial thoroughfare in the Auckland CBD, New Zealand's main population center.

The Auckland local election is on Saturday 8 October 2022. File photo Photo: 123rf.com

The Auckland mayoral race has become about personalities, not policy.

That's the verdict of a number of minor candidates vying for Auckland's top job.

With nominations closing last week, the race now has 23 candidates to have thrown their hat in the ring.

However, not all are being treated equally in the public eye according to some of the candidates.

Ted Johnston is concerned that their voices are being silenced with a focus only on the high-profile candidates.

"It's become a media circus and every three years we have the same circus but different clowns i think it's about time we said well what about the quality of the people?"

There were a number of different factors favouring certain candidates over others, Johnston said.

"If they went pushed so hard a lot of them aren't very particularly strong candidates. If you took away their money and endorsements they'd have a hard time competing with everyone else, it's not the quality of policies its become a cult of personality."

Campaign rules allow a candidate to spend up to $680,000, a figure Johnston said was out of reach for many.

"It's become like a US election with lobbying and money donations, if we want to keep our New Zealand democracy where it doesn't depend on who has the most money wins."

New Conservative Party co-leader and 2022 Auckland mayoralty contender Ted Johnston.

Auckland mayoral candidate Ted Johnston. Photo: Supplied/ New Conservative

Fellow candidate Michael Kampkes concurred.

"We believe that there should be a lot more focus on policy and that's what people need to know about in order to make the right choice for mayor."

He believed not all candidates have been given a fair shot.

"There does appear to be side show, simply following around the debates where only certain candidates get invited, isn't fair."

However, Kampkes said the over exposure of the front runners may work against them.

"You get a sense that people have heard to much from these front running candidates and they are looking around so i think the field is relatively open."

Dr Michael Morris joined the chorus of criticism.

"The Auckland Mayoral election is important and the most high profile candidates are not necessarily the best ones."

Throughout the campaign the focus had been on the wrong things, Dr Morris said.

"Personality is important but so is character, whether you can shock people is not so important."

However, Dr Morris was also confident the aggressive campaign strategies of his competition may backfire.

"At the moment, the people winning are the don't knows and those people have obviously seen through the high profile candidates and decided they don't want any of them."

Dr Morris was campaigning on a platform of animal rights and the climate emergency.

"An emergency is flashing lights and people yelling get out, not when you have people discussing things in board rooms so we need to do something quickly about that."

Michael Kampkes is also prioritising climate change as well as housing reform.

"This housing intensification issue affects everybody in our 206 suburbs and needs to be repealed," he said.

Another recently announced candidate is Auckland-born adult entertainer Lisa Lewis.

The spending of some of her fellow candidates showed how out of touch they are, she said.

"As far as I am concerned whoever is spending the most on their campaign right now in a time where we are or country and city is in dire financial hardship, they are the last people I'd be voting for."

Financial responsibility was crucial in the role, Lewis said.

"The mayoralty position needs to be thinking about what a normal person get financially and if they can afford these rates."

She welcomed criticisms from those who said her past should have disqualified her from political office.

"Anyone in government is someone that is transparent to me, honest and has walked all walks of life. That's me, there are no skeletons in my closet, I am the most open candidate you're going to get."

Her past helped her to connect with everyday New Zealanders, she said.

"I am a normal person I know what it's like not to have a roof over my head and working hard to get what I want out of life and I will get on with that 'too hard basket'."

The Auckland local election is on Saturday 8 October 2022.

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