8 Nov 2015

Phil Goff may run for Auckland mayor

7:13 pm on 8 November 2015

Labour MP and former leader Phil Goff says he will make an announcement in two weeks on whether he will enter the race to be the next Auckland mayor.

Labour MP Phil Goff.

Labour MP Phil Goff. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Auckland mayor Len Brown has led the city since amalgamation five years ago, but announced today that he would not be seeking re-election next year.

Mr Goff is expected to join the race to replace Mr Brown later this month - but he would not confirm that today.

"I'll be making an announcement in a couple of weeks time, I'm not making a comment before then.

"I don't think it's a left-right race, that's not what you're looking for the mayoralty for Auckland.

"I think you're looking in the mayoralty for somebody who can represent the whole city, that is the role of the mayor to bring the council not to artificially divide the city into left or right."

Mr Goff said today was a day to pay tribute to Len Brown and the work he had done as mayor.

'Family decision' behind Len Brown's departure

Mr Brown said his decision to bow out was a family decision, but acknowledged he would struggle to win a third term after a hit to his popular support in the wake of political scandal which engulfed him two years ago.

Within days of a second strong election win in 2013, Mr Brown was forced to admit a two-year extra-marital affair with council advisory board member Bevan Chuang.

Watch video of Len Brown speaking about why he won't be standing again, and the effect of his extramarital affair.

A subsequent council inquiry found he had also failed to declare as required 73 free or upgraded hotel rooms used by himself and his family.

In an interview with RNZ News, Mr Brown admitted the public response to that had been part of his decision.

"In politics you rise and fall on how the public perceives you, and that perception has taken a hit, but in the end it's not the thing that decides it. It's really Shan [Mr Brown's wife] and I and the kids.

"I won three previous elections by a landslide, and in this term I would find it very hard to succeed again."

He rejected as a ground not to run again Phil Goff's expected candidacy.

"It could be Phil, it could be anyone, ultimately the decision is ours as to whether we'd want to contest."

He would not be giving Mr Goff - or any candidate - his endorsement. "I think it's really critical to leave the people of Auckland to make their own decision on who should succeed me. I won't be involved in any fashion in what people think about one candidate or another."

Mr Brown insisted he and his family had always worked on a plan that he would seek only three terms as mayor - the first of them in Manukau City.

"We were quite clear at the outset, three terms would be it, and that is exactly as it has panned out".

He was proud of the work he had contributed to in leading the council formed from the amalgamation of eight former local bodies.

"We set a great vision and a tremendous plan for going forward, and moved with real pace and momentum. It could have been a lot worse, and there are times I wished it could have been better, but I think we set a very good base for the city to move forward on."

Mr Brown's decision not to run leaves the mayoral race with two main contenders; Phil Goff, if his bid is confirmed as expected, and one-time National Party candidate Mark Thomas.

A National Party-aligned group, Auckland Future, is also looking for a suitable candidate in addition to fielding council candidates in parts of the region next October.

Len Brown, a lawyer by profession, said he had no idea what he would do next - only that it wouldn't involve anything to do with the council.

"For whoever the mayor is to come, they will not see me around this place at all. I think it's critical that when you finish, you finish and get out - it won't be around this organisation."

Len Brown won the Manukau mayoralty in 2007, began his first term as Auckland mayor in 2010, and was re-elected in 2013.