What to make of the local government election results? On the face of it you’d have to say that with centre left mayors in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin the vibe is good for the left heading into 2014.
Dave Cull and Celia Wade-Brown fended off challengers in Dunedin and Wellington. Lianne Dalziel romped in without a serious opponent in Christchurch. Life is about to get more interesting for Gerry Brownlee who now has to contend with a more sophisticated political operator in the mayor’s chair. Lianne will be a formidable counter-balance to National’s strange mixture of top-down and hands-off approach to the rebuild.
In Auckland Len Brown has a thumping mandate. Turn out is down but as Mike Williams argues in the Herald on Sunday, that is largely because Len never had a serious challenger on the Right. Mr Palino garnered
50,000 100,000 votes, scooping up the conservative votes on the North Shore and the Eastern Suburbs who were never going to vote for Len after their rates went up under the rating unification scheme legislated by National. But the Auckland Right never got behind him in a serious way.
They put their resources into a couple of strategic Council contests, namely Denise Krum v Richard Northey in the Maungakiekie ward, and Linda Cooper v Christine Rose in Waitakere, hoping to tip the balance of power on Council. However the National Party picking up both those seats is neatly offset by Labour’s Ross Clow winning the Whau ward from Noeline Raffils, and left leaning John Watson joining his ticket-mate Wayne Walker in Albany. The balance of power on Council is unlikely to change much at all as a result.
The big story in Auckland is Len Brown’s long term mortgage on the Town Hall. The fact that the Right couldn’t find a credible challenger says it all. Len’s been the alternative government for the last three years on litmus test issues like transport and housing. He even rolled Gerry Brownlee and Steven Joyce on the City Rail Link. If he can get the City Rail Link tunnelling underway before the next election (possible with a Labour win in 2014) then you’ll have to crowbar him out of the Town Hall.
And more good news for the left in Auckland: Labour and progressive allies scored some notable successes in the local boards. Out west where I am, Labour tickets won a majority in the Whau, got three elected in Henderson-Massey, and the Labour-Green-Independent Future West won a clean sweep in Waitakere Ranges. City Vision maintained its majorities in Waitemata and Eden-Albert. Labour wrested Otara-Papatoetoe from the centre right. Kaipatiki on the Shore shifted in a more progressive direction, and the progressive Roskill Community Voice team won a majority on the Puketepapa board.