Auckland council walks away from work


local government

The composition of the governing body of Auckland Council will be quite different in this fifth Super City term, with a number of centre-right candidates filling positions held by the left.

As the dust settles on Auckland’s local body election, it seems the one thing the third of Aucklanders who turned out to vote tend to agree on is that they wanted change.

Besides Wayne Brown who took the mayoralty with a lead of nearly 55,000 votes in the provisional results, a number of city districts evicted the incumbent in favor of a new face.

There will be seven of these new faces around the governing table in this new term, although some, like Howick’s Maurice Williamson and Waitemāta’s Mike Lee, are political veterans returning from brief stints outside the halls of power. .

Although Manukau’s new councilor, Lotu Fuli, who replaces defeated mayoral candidate Efeso Collins, is a Labor candidate, the other new blood is decidedly more centre-right.

New board members Andy Baker, Maurice Williamson, Ken Turner, Mike Lee and Wayne Brown all represent a shift from the Labor status quo, leaving council chambers with just six bona fide Labor candidates.

Perhaps one of the biggest upsets of the day was independent Mike Lee taking over his old Waitematā chair from Pippa Coom. The seat was decided by a margin of 1,257 votes in the provisional results, with Lee taking almost exactly half the vote.

Coom was not far behind with about 42% of the vote for the area, which includes downtown and adjacent suburbs and the Hauraki Gulf islands.

In 2019, Coom took Lee’s seat by just 319 votes – giving him a grip that ultimately proved not firm enough to provide him with more than one term.

Lee was thrilled to be back in his old seat and talked about being there with the new mayor when it came to doing extreme forensic accounting on the council.

“Too much power and not enough responsibility,” Lee said last night as he drove to Brown’s celebration in Ponsonby to congratulate him.

Lee said his first priority would be to open the books to the council and arrange for an audit of expenses.

“Auckland’s finances are in very bad shape,” he said. “And I think in all book openings, Auckland Transport should definitely take priority.”

He said that with a new governing body and a mayor who ran on a council reform platform, there was a good chance the new council would be able to effect change.

Auckland’s new councilors, according to provisional results. Clockwise from top left: Maurice Williamson, Andy Baker, Will McKenzie, Lotu Fuli, Ken Turner and Mike Lee. Photos: Auckland Council, Facebook, WestWards

Another big change is in the center Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa neighborhood, where center-left councilor Catherine Casey has held an assured seat for the life of the Super City. Her retirement this year left an open space for a newcomer to join C&R’s Christine Fletcher.

But while the left produced candidates like Julie Fairey and Red Tsounga, who each garnered respectable shares of the vote, the freshly vacated seat went to C&R’s Will McKenzie. He trailed Fairey by a mere 286 votes in the interim results, meaning that as the special votes are counted, there’s a chance things will change.

A result that includes votes cast yesterday morning will not be revealed until October 13, giving photo-finish races a chance to do so again.

However, in Franklin, local board chairman Andy Baker beat former All Black Keven Mealamu by a comfortable margin of 3,641, suggesting that for this term, Baker is Franklin’s man.

Asked earlier in the campaign what it was like to take on rugby royalty, Baker said “it will be a great test for the relevance of name recognition at the end of the day”.

Another relatively comfortable victory was for former national MP Maurice Williamson in the Howick ward, where he ousted incumbent Paul Young by more than 2,000 votes.

Williamson campaigned with a platform focused on containing Auckland’s spending, which he said treated ratepayers and ratepayers as “open-ended cash dispensers”.

“Something has to be done to stop this juggernaut,” he said. “It is simply wrong to continue accumulating debts to pass on to future generations.”

Places where the shift to the right was not felt included North Shore, where leftist Richard Hills and Chris Darby were able to retain their seats, and Maungakiekie-Tāmaki, where Josephine Bartley continued.

Appointed Labor candidate Shane Henderson retained his seat representing the West, after which he tweeted in thanks: “Thank you Waitākere! humbled, and I will work hard to thank you for your support.”

However, it’s the end of the road for Linda Cooper, Waitākere’s other ward councilor, who was replaced by WestWard’s Ken Turner, whose campaign included a handful of C&R favorites such as keeping parking lots, the restriction of construction heights on new developments and the control of expenses.

The fifth term councilors of Auckland Council are:

  • John Watson
  • wayne walker
  • Christine Flecher
  • Will McKenzie
  • Andy Baker
  • Sharon Stewart
  • Maurice Williamson
  • Filipina
  • Lotus Fuli
  • Daniel Newman
  • Angela Dalton
  • Josephine Bartley
  • Richard Hills
  • Chris Darby
  • Desley Simpson
  • Greg Sayer
  • Shane Henderson
  • Ken Turner

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