15 Apr 2016

Six months to go, and no mayoral candidates

9:25 am on 15 April 2016

It's just six months until the local government elections, but in Christchurch, nobody has put their hand up to run for mayor.

Yesterday, current mayor Lianne Dalziel told local media she was feeling the strain of the job and was torn about whether she would stand for a second term.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

In an interview with Newstalk ZB, Lianne Dalziel said she had lost the fun of life and was weighing up whether she still had the energy to run again.

She declined RNZ's request for an interview, but former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore, a friend of Ms Dalziel's, said the city needed her to stand again.

The mayor had led sweeping changes designed to make the formerly dysfunctional council more responsive to the city's needs, but the job was not yet finished, he said.

"Christchurch has experienced something that very few cities have experienced and it's important consistency and stability happens at the elected level to bring the beuracracy into a place where it's properly accountable to the ratepayers of Christchurch."

But he could understand why the mayor was not rushing to throw her hat in the ring for a second term.

"I worked 90 to 120 hours a week as mayor for nine years and I'd say Lianne would be doing that plus and I did not have the complications she has of the external forces that meddle.

"So it's probably the hardest mayoral job in New Zealand."

A former mayoral candidate and cabinet colleague of Ms Dalziel's, Jim Anderton, said the scale of the problems when she took office three years ago were greater than anything ever experienced before by a mayor in New Zealand.

"When you're faced with these sorts of situations which have never happened before, there's no model to follow. You've got to just take one step at a time, and Lianne's been good at that.

"I think her preparation in a whole range of political and community affairs at a national and local level prepared her for it. So we were lucky to have her at that time."

Mr Anderton said after the tumultuous period experienced under Bob Parker's leadership, the city now required a period of continuity.

"The really hard yards have been done. It's still going to be difficult but she's got a grip on it now and I think at least another three years would be very good for this city.

"Whether it's good for her is another matter."

The head of Canterbury University's politics department, Bronwyn Hayward, said the next most obvious candidate for mayor after Ms Dalziel was the first term councillor and former investment banker Raf Manji.

He has ruled out standing, which could signal that Ms Dalziel would stand, because Mr Manji has previously said he would only consider running if Ms Dalziel did not.

Mrs Hayward said the two politicians complemented each other.

"I hope Lianne Dalziel and Raf Manji continue because I think the team is very good and they kind of unite the city really, in a way that's quite progressive and helpful.

"I think we need to do a lot of listening to different viewpoints."

She suspected too much had been made of Miss Dalziel's fatigue in the job.

The Dalziel-Manji combination was only now starting to find new ways of funding the rebuild of the city and it would be good if they could keep that ball rolling, she said.

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