11 Apr 2016

Six in race to be Wellington's mayor

6:55 am on 11 April 2016

Porirua's mayor Nick Leggett is now officially in the race for Wellington's mayoralty, after months of laughing off suggestions that he was interested.

Current Porirua mayor Nick Leggett has launched a campaign to run for mayor in Wellington.

Mr Leggett officially threw his hat into the Wellington mayoral race at the weekend. Photo: Supplied

Mr Leggett announced his candidacy yesterday, and said he would build a 50-year vision for the city, and that he offered fresh and energetic leadership.

RNZ News checked in with the other mayoral candidates to hear what they thought of the announcement.

Nicola Young, a right-wing independent, said Mr Leggett was the consummate politician.

"Nick is a very good friend of mine and he's a man of integrity. He lured me into local body politics.

Nicola Young - wants Kate Sheppard lights to stay

Nicola Young. Photo: RNZ / Teresa Cowie

"So, (after) the announcement there's going to be a feeding frenzy on the left. After all, Nick standing is really a vote of no confidence in Celia [Wade-Brown, mayor] and Justin [Lester, deputy mayor]."

Ms Young said she agreed the city needed fresh leadership and she did not consider herself part of the council's "old guard".

The council's three most senior members were also standing for the top job - mayor Celia Wade-Brown, deputy mayor Justin Lester and Jo Coughlan.

While Mr Leggett said the city's leadership has stalled, Ms Wade-Brown said the city had a bold vision and strong local growth.

"I've worked really hard both with local businesses and with multi-nationals to turn the smart capital concept into a reality.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. Photo: SUPPLIED / WCC

"I think Wellingtonians have got a very clear vision this is a city where you can combine the beautiful, natural environment, high-tech living and an inclusive, progressive set of values," she said.

Ms Wade-Brown said Mr Leggett might struggle for votes after his vocal support of a Wellington supercity.

Jo Coughlan held the city's economic portfolio for the past six years, and said she wanted allies to push ahead roading projects.

Mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan says her top priority is to improve Wellington's infrastructure.

Jo Coughlan. Photo: Supplied

"Any candidate who supports my commitment as mayor to double-tunnel the Mt Vic and Terrace tunnels, along with other infrastructure and other ambitious policies to make Wellington better could be a useful councillor," she said.

Despite being told Mr Leggett was only standing for mayor, not as a councillor, she said "any candidate who supports those policies of mine to fix the roading could be useful around the table".

Labour's candidate, Justin Lester, said he was surprised by the announcement because he would never run for mayor in a city he did not live in.

Justin Lester

Justin Lester. Photo: Wellington City Council

And he said Mr Leggett was not leaving Porirua in the best shape.

"[Wellington is] the hub, we're the engine of the economy of the region. I look north and I look at Porirua and I say 'look, there's an urban centre there that needs to be addressed' - it doesn't look great at the moment.

"Those are some of the issues I would have been focusing on if I'd been out there," he said.

Keith Johnson, the self-proclaimed non-establishment candidate, said he was the only fresh face in the race.

"The current crop of candidates, all of whom are current councillors or in the case of Leggett the mayor of an adjoining city, they're all cardboard cutouts. They all support big spending, the runway extension for example.

Keith Johnson, Wellington mayoral candidate.

Keith Johnson. Photo: SUPPLIED/Keith Johnson

"It's important to have a candidate who's a little bit more moderate in terms of spending intentions."

Dr Johnson said Mr Leggett did not have a chance of winning in Wellington.

Anyone else who fancies the job of the capital's mayor has until mid-August to put their name forward.

  • Leggett to run for capital mayoralty
  • The race to be Wellington's mayor
  • Jo Coughlan to run for Wellington mayoralty
  • Wellington's deputy mayor runs for top job
  • Mayoral contender criticises fund secrecy