24 May 2022

Meet Auckland's wildcard mayoral candidates

8:40 am on 24 May 2022

Auckland's lesser known mayoral candidates give their view on the pressing issues facing the supercity and their potential solutions.

Businessman Leo Molloy and Craig Lord are both running for mayor. Photo: Supplied

Auckland's top job is up for grabs.

Incumbent Phil Goff will hand over the chains after six years in office meaning the country's biggest city will have a new mayor in 2022.

Nine respective candidates have thrown their hat into the mayoral ring to date.

While Efeso Collins and Gary Brown may be familiar names to voters, we look at some of the lesser known candidates putting their hands up.

Among them are an engineer, an animal rights activist, a criminal lawyer and the man who manufactured the infamous Muldoon Piggy Bank.

Michael Morris

Michael Morris says for too long a key sector of society has been left out of the political conversation.

"I'm the only candidate as far as I am aware who is representing the 150 million land animals and 300 million sea animals being killed in nasty ways in New Zealand every year."

The Animal Justice candidate is running on a platform of justice for animals, the environment and marginalised humans.

He wants to put an end to factory farming, and steer society toward a plant based economy.

With a degree in zoology, experience in public policy and research into public health, Morris says he brings a wealth of experience to the table.

When not fighting for animal justice, he can often be found stargazing.

"That sort of thing gets me thinking how vast our universe is and how lucky we are to have a planet we can live on that is so beautiful."

Aware there is strong competition for the position, Morris says they are not going away and the campaign will just be the start.

"I'm realistic enough to realise I don't have the profile of some of the other candidates, but my main purpose is to raise awareness of the issues and get people thinking that humans are not the only creatures on the planet that should have a voice."

Ted Johnston

Ted Johnston is co-leader of what he describes as the 'new' New Conservative party.

A criminal barrister in South Auckland for 30 years, Johnson is concerned a number of current policies including taking away CBD parking and suggestions of a congestion tax go against the wants of the Auckland people.

"Trust Ted. Let me get the job done. Let the council be invisible in that you don't have to worry about us because you know we are getting the job done."

A Samoan Kiwi, Johnston says voters need to look beyond the ethnicity of candidates particularly in regard to favourite Esefo Collins.

"I know he's running around getting puff pieces, endorsements from everybody and saying "I'm the Pacific Islander," but if that's all it takes, so am I, except he's the boy from Ōtara and I'm the man from Ōtara and you don't send a boy to do a man's job."

Johnston says the conservative party no longer sits on the far right of the spectrum.

"Now that I'm leader of the party it's changed, it's more centrist. It's a kind caring party aiming to do good things and look after everyone, that's the new, new conservative that I stand for, a party for the whole country."

He believes candidates such as Collins will need to "tow the line of Labour."

"We are not interested in anyone ruling us, Auckland for Auckland that's what I say."

Craig Lord

Craig Lord is running for mayor for the second time after finishing third in the 2019 race.

He says he is one of the many citizens frustrated with how things are being run.

"I'm definitely not a bureaucrat, or a university graduate or a former politician. I'm a diagnostic and maintenance engineer, my job was to be called in to fix things."

Lord says as an engineer, he has learnt everything from sweeping floors and getting smoko to dealing with a diverse range of people.

"Engineers are quite pragmatic people, we know if you keep doing the same silly thing you will get the same silly result so we like to come up with new solutions to do things and we do things very logically."

Lord says it requires propel skills to successfully lead the troops in council and believes his 20 plus years experience in the media sector gives him just that.

He says financial mismanagement is the primary pitfall of current council.

"Auckland Council is basically broke, it's in big trouble."

Lord says more responsible spending will be one of his priorities.

"There is a lot of misspending done as well, we all see it everyday with projects that are redone and mishandled. We don't focus on core services. There is too much focus on the niceties rather than the necessitates of the world."

An avid motorsport fan, gamer, self-taught tech geek, and DIY aficionado, Lord is confident of his chances after a strong showing in 2016 where he picked up eight percent of the vote.

Born in Putāruru, Lord moved to Auckland as a 15-year-old and met his wife of 26 years shortly after.

The 50-year-old has raised two children and believes the public will respond to what he says are clear, simplistic policies.

John Lehmann

According to John Lehmann the city is in a sorry and sad state though it can be fixed.

The man behind the biggest selling novelty item in New Zealand history, the Muldoon piggy bank, Lehmann says he will abolish the fuel tax, shake up Auckland Transport and get homeless off the streets.

"I was born and bred in Auckland and I've seen the city over the last particularly 15 years just go down and down and down to a point where it is almost unliveable, there is crime everywhere the roading situation is congested beyond belief."

He says Auckland is becoming a lawless, unsafe slum.

"When I looked at the candidates I was not impressed at all, I thought if this is the best who were going to put their hand up then we are in bad shape."

Lehmann is a solo father to six and says top priority will be Aucklanders, their interests and safety.

"We need a new style of thinking a new brush to go through the place, clean it up and knock it back into shape as it should be and it never should have got to this stage."

Leo Molloy

Businessman Leo Molloy is no stranger to the press, or to frequenters of the viaduct night scene.

Formerly a jockey, veterinarian, and now owner of the Headquarters Bar, Molloy says real-world experience is what separates him from the other candidates.

"I love to see a city that's vibrant and people who smile, what I see now unfortunately is a city that's been hollowed out, in a state of despair and a city being run by two or three ideologues."

Molloy says his 'Auckland comeback plan' addresses safety of citizens, transport, and the cost of living.

"The opportunity that I am offering Auckland is a chance to make a choice if they want change. If Auckland is happy with the status quo, if Auckland believes we have been performing to our maximum capacity, if Auckland does not want to be activated they should not consider voting for me. I think the city is ready for someone like me."

The final list of candidates will be announced on 17 August with voting getting underway on 16 September.

The new mayor will be announced in mid October.

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