28 Apr 2016

Mayoral candidates 'independent' but politically-linked

6:09 am on 28 April 2016

Leading Auckland mayoral candidates insist they are politically independent, even though one is a Labour MP, another ran for National and a third has joined forces with a centre-right local body ticket.

Phil Goff, Mark Thomas and Vic Crone have been quizzed on their independent labels during their encounter at an ACT Party fundraiser organised by Epsom MP David Seymour.

From left, Victoria Crone, Phil Goff and Mark Thomas.

From left, candidates Victoria Crone, Phil Goff and Mark Thomas. Photo: RNZ

Mr Goff has been a Labour MP for most of the past four decades in the Mt Roskill electorate.

"I'm a person who has Labour values, I've had them all my life and I inherited them from my grandmother," he told the audience.

"I'm running as an independent because on council you're dealing with a cross-section of people of all political persuasions, and whoever is mayor has got to get that group working as a team."

Auckland mayoral candidates, from left: Vic Crone, Mark Thomas and Phill Goff with ACT leader David Seymour, right.

Auckland mayoral candidates, from left: Vic Crone, Mark Thomas and Phill Goff with ACT leader David Seymour, right. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Ms Crone was encouraged into the mayoral contest by National Party figures, and yesterday launched a fiscal policy with the centre-right Auckland Future ticket.

But she said in her business life she had worked with both Labour and National.

"So there is an independent candidate here, it is me," she said. Although she then focused on her allies.

"Yes I come with centre-right values. There was a very strong signal sent yesterday when we launched policy in conjunction with other centre-right councillors and candidates - that is the centre-right actually finally starting to get its act together around councillors grouping around a strong leader with fresh ideas."

Mr Thomas, a former National Party candidate, said wider working relationships were needed.

"The mayor of Auckland has to work with all councillors, not just one group of the council," he told the gathering.

"So I was talking to a Labour councillor today about my assets swap idea, and he was up for the conversation."

Five-and-a-half months from election day, the contest remains polite with no sparring.

The invitation-only event excluded declared candidates John Palino, David Hay and Penny Bright.

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