$ to $$$$$ with $ being a leftist trougher and $$$$$ being small government dynamo

For some, however, a clown is more appropriate. More than one may be awarded.

Waitemata & Gulf Ward

Waitemata & Gulf is one of the smaller Council wards, stretching from Western Springs in the west, stopping at Parnell in the east including the CBD area. It also includes Waiheke and Great Barrier Island. I had a crack at it in 2013 getting narrowly beaten by blank votes. Mike Lee has been a councillor since 2010 and was widely expected to retire but is putting himself forward for a fourth term.

Most recent voter turnout figures show that voting is down 19.6% on 2016 and the Waitemata local board area is 24.5% behind.

Pippa Coom – City Vision

Pippa topped the voting totals in Waitemata Local Board elections in 2016 and probably viewed herself as heir apparent for the ward seat until Mike Lee decided to run again. Pippa has been on the local board for 3 terms and is currently the Chair.

Coom is on the radical left end of the spectrum; a cycle lanes and bus fanatic with a commitment to social justice and ownership of public assets. She will continue the anti-car mantra of former Auckland design champion Ludo Campbell, seeking to slash urban speed limits, increase traffic-free zones throughout the CBD and try to achieve the UN Agenda 2030 goals. She is also on the steering committee for Grey Lynn 2030, preparing Auckland for the challenges of peak oil and climate change.

Climate Action features very highly on Pippa’s priorities saying “A just transition to a low-emissions and climate-ready city; every decision of Auckland Council must contribute to fighting the climate and ecological crisis.” Unfortunately, there is very little impact she can make on the climate but she is determined to make a horrendous economic impact trying. Worse, whatever the condition of Auckland’s climate in a decade, there is no way of knowing if she succeeded or didn’t try hard enough. Whatever the result she will put her foot to the floor, full speed ahead as long as Auckland keeps electing her.

Mike Lee – Independent $

After 27 years in local body politics, starting with being elected to the Auckland Regional Council in 1992 and representing Waitemata & Gulf for 9 years, Lee has decided there is still life in the old bugger yet and wants another term. Mike is a bit of an enigma, far-left politically but stubbornly independent and outspoken. He ditched the City Vision grouping several years ago, opposes Phil Goff’s Mayoralty and is critical of the Council’s wasteful spending culture.

Lee is also a heritage-warrior, advocating stronger protections on heritage scheduled buildings and historic townscapes, caring little for the property rights of the owners. It is incredibly arrogant and totalitarian to think that subjective opinions on kilometres of views justify onerous regulations on what you can do with your own home.

Mike Lee opposes the current plan for trams to the Airport, he wants heavy rail to the airport instead! The wasteful Wynyard waterfront tram system, which is isolated from the rest of the rail network should also be linked to Britomart according to Lee. I’d rather send it to the scrapyard.

Mr Lee also opposes the sale of any and all council ‘assets, including the asbestos riddled, Category A heritage-listed Auckland Council Civic Administration Building. Asbestos removal alone is forecast to cost $5-10m and the heritage status that Lee is such a big proponent of makes it a very expensive building to modify. Phil Goff believes the building could cost the ratepayer $80m to refurbish. Panuku Development Auckland is flicking it off for $3m which is ridiculously cheap for an office block and land in the middle of the CBD. Perhaps they should scrap the heritage status to improve the price.

He has his good sides though, especially regarding AT’s ideological transport crusade, and the predictable cost blowout building the CRL. But I’m hesitant to think that good is enough to offset the bad.

Lee says of his decision to stand for a fourth term, “I am dismayed at the situation Auckland is in. I firmly believe the ‘Super City is the worst thing that has ever happened to Auckland.

“The people of Auckland have to endure an arrogant, overbearing council/CCO bureaucracy, appalling financial mismanagement and waste.”

The Super City has got that way on your watch, Mike. You’re not doing anyone a favour hanging around longer.

Allan Matson – Independent

Ladies and Gentleman, radical left candidate number 3. If this was an episode of Blind Date, you’d be poking both eyes out. I don’t quite recall the name or face, but seeing the candidate photo alone was enough to detect pretentious, nosey, central planner. I guess tan jackets must be their unofficial uniform. I’ll never wear one again.

Matson was a merchant banker for 10 years but I guess it didn’t make him feel sufficiently important so he retrained as an architect and has worked the last 15 years as a heritage consultant. Mike Lee and Pippa Coom are the sort of politicians that sustain people like Matson, who appreciates “the complexity of dealing with Council processes, but somehow I have developed the patience for it.” 

Matson is standing for Council because “I love Auckland and do not want its future growth to be characterised by ugly development.”

Who the hell does he think he is? Who defines ugly and why is their opinion more important than the person who owns and pays for it? As far back as 2004, Matson has been interfering in other people’s business driven by a zealotry that is as dangerous as it is self-important. If he values these buildings so much, the right thing to do is stump up his own cash and do nothing with them. 

Allan’s entire reason for standing is to stop you doing what he doesn’t like on your property. He has no other policies. Few politicians could possibly be any more morally empty or parasitical. 

Matson is so self-absorbed that reading his pitch for your votes is far more damaging than anything else I could say about him.

“I think I could usefully bring my considerable knowledge and experience to the table, and further more my membership of Council’s Heritage Advisory Panel and various boards including the former NZ Historic Places Trust have provided me with insights and governance experience that would also be useful.

“After living here for 25 years, studying architecture and specialising in heritage, I’ve built up a great knowledge of the fabric of the city and the fascinating stories that reside in the environment built up here over the years.”

Will Maxwell-Steele – Independent $$$$

If you’ve driven around the CBD, you may have seen some small red signs with a cartoon of Trump on them but no time to read anything else as you continued on your journey. Will is the candidate behind those signs, pointing out Trump’s victory in the Presidential elections was the result of 47% of Americans not voting.

Will has a few things to learn about retail politics, such as the KISS principle. (Keep it Simple Stupid). Will probably despises retail politics, having been a self-employed contractor most of his life before joining the family property investment and development business. He is standing out of pure frustration at dealing with the Council. 

“The Council hired a fire engineer to sign off work, who ran a competing fire engineering business, based in Christchurch, and only came to Auckland one day a month! The manager’s reply when I questioned this… “I know it’s a conflict, but what can you do?” 

I think I’m going to like Will. Have a look at Will’s website because I think you will too. Will is also one of the few Council candidates to sign Auckland Ratepayer’s Alliance pledge promising not to vote in favour of rates increases exceeding 2%.

It’s unfortunate that he isn’t really a contender in this race. Hopefully, he has another shot at standing for Council and thrashes the 2022 incumbent

Sarah Trotman – C&R – Communities and Residents $$$

Trotman models herself as a no-nonsense CEO who won’t tolerate incompetence from bureaucrats but I’m not 100% convinced. While she has received a ONZM for services to business and the community in 2017, she has also been chair of AUT’s Women on Campus which hints at liberal wetness.

As Chief Executive of Business Mentors New Zealand, she supervises free business mentoring for over 3,000 small businesses. She also mentors young women under the YWCA Future Leaders Programme and is a supporter of the Auckland Foundation’s Women’s Fund.

Other projects Trotman has helped establish include the Lifewise Big Sleepout and Spend My Super, a charitable trust that facilitates wealthy retirees donating their unwanted super addressing child poverty.

Her candidate profile is big on her story but virtually policy-free. I suppose C&R are planning to get her elected based on her affiliation but I need to see more.

MY RECOMMENDATION: You have one vote in this FPP contest

  • Will Maxwell-Steele – Independent


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Waitemata & Gulf Ward: An Absolutely Biased Guide to Auckland Local Elections
Stephen Berry

Stephen Berry

Stephen Berry is compiling this guide on the Auckland Local Body elections as an independent commentator. His recommendations are based on his own research and are not on behalf of any organisation. Previously,...