Since Bob decided to step down slash chose to leave the building rather than being hung, there has been speculation as to who will run against Lianne Dalziel. The Herald has linked obvious joke candidates, such as a dog, a “superhero” and Aaron Gilmore to the job. The Press is perhaps more realistic, with Ngaire Button, Tim Carter, Sue Wells and Peter Townsend in the mix. This morning’s editorial also calls for a strong candidate to run, but perhaps misses some of the point.
Apparently Parker was made aware of the polling data that showed Dalziel was the overwhelming favourite for the mayoralty before he made the decision to step down. He pulled the plug because he’s an egotist, a showman, and he didn’t want to go out after have being trounced at the polls. Some have said that he decision to quit is brave; I’d say the opposite. It’s cowardly. He could see the writing on the wall, and jumped before he got what would have been a humiliating fall for Christchurch’s “hero”.
This might come across as gloating, and … well – it is. For critics and opponents of the Parker-led council, this is a vindication. We’ve rallied against Marryatt, the culture of secrecy, the lack of accountability – all of which have been instrumental in the downfall of the two men. But these two aren’t the only culpable. Button, Wells, Gough, Keown – the rest of the “A team” who supported this destructive culture are similarly tainted. The idea that anyone of them could hope to pull the mayoralty is laughable – all the ideas and baggage of Parker, without the constant media coverage that won him the last election. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these guys lost their council seats – if they don’t follow Bob in reading the writing on the wall and going first.
Tim Carter and Peter Townsend were both at Dalziel’s campaign launch, which was considered a soft endorsement (which showed just how low Parker’s stock had dropped in the right-wing business community.) They may be rethinking a run now – but their backing of Dalziel suggests that she has the endorsement of the business community, so even if they did declare, it’s not a given that the business community would follow them.
For someone to have a realistic crack at it, they’d have to have a comparable profile to Dalziel, and some big (presumably right-wing) backers. The Nats could try drop an MP into the mix, but they’re a bit thin on the ground here. Brownlee already rules the council. Wagner is a nobody. Wilkinson is a fading star, but from Waimak rather than Christchurch, and hardly charismatic enough to pull large numbers of people. David Carter is technically a Christchurch MP, and while I’d quite like the idea of him being in any other role than speaker of the house, he has lost Port Hills a number of times, and famously called Woolston a shit-hole. That said, he’s well connected, and would have the money for a big campaign. Aaron Gilmore would be hilarious if he ran, but nothing more than a joke.
Beyond the smug satisfaction of vindication, we need to come up with policies to put in place post-election. Much of this will be limited by the CCDU. However, Parker and Marryatt have done a huge amount of damage, and some of it needs to be undone. The article in the Press on the council’s debt track over the next 30 years is truly frightening, and I’d like to see constructive debate on this in the election campaign – thou at this rate, it could just be Dalziel grilling herself.