Wellington Scoop

Who’ll be our new deputy mayor?

Who’ll be the next deputy mayor of Wellington? Paul Eagle is now the Labour MP for Rongotai (with a majority of over 8000) so he’ll be resigning any day. His election is no surprise, giving Justin Lester plenty of time to make a shortlist of councillors who could take over the job.

Will Wellington’s new deputy mayor be a woman? There are at least three possibilities.

Four-term councillor Iona Pannett is well qualified to be in the running. Before the last council elections, there were expectations that she would get the job, to reflect the relationship between Labour and the Greens, and to follow the tradition of choosing someone from a different political party (and someone of the opposite sex) – think of Kerry Prendergast with Alick Shaw, and Celia Wade-Brown with Ian McKinnon. But Justin didn’t follow their example. He went with Paul as a fellow Labour Party member.

Will he be considering her this time? She is already in charge of some major council responsibilities, as chair of the strategy committee and portfolio leader for infrastructure and sustainability – big jobs, for which she has experience matched by almost no one else on the council. She is also recently widowed, leaving her as a solo parent with two young children, who might not wish to accept the extra no-let-up demands of the deputy mayoralty.

Second-term councillor Nicola Young is another who is well qualified for the job, with a broad political reach and a wide knowledge of Wellington. But she doesn’t seem to be a likely choice for Justin.

First-time councillor Jill Day has often been mentioned as a possible successor to Paul Eagle. After she was elected last year, the council announced that she was the city’s first Maori woman city councillor. When Justin appointed her to head the council’s Children and Young People and Iwi Partnership portfolios, he praised her effusively:

“I know Jill well and supported her during her campaign. She is enormously capable, she has strong links with her community which she has built up over many years and she will do a wonderful job as a councillor.”

If he chooses her as deputy mayor, his council could then announce that Wellington had its first Maori woman in the role. However her lack of council experience could be an issue, though the former primary school teacher could point to her lower-level work as a member of the Tawa Community Board. And her concern for housing issues would complement the concerns of the mayor.

If not a woman, how about the small supply of experienced and longer-serving (male) councillors? Simon Marsh (in his third term) and Andy Foster (eighth term) don’t seem to be on anyone’s lists. But earlier this year there were reports that Green councillor David Lee (in his second term) was interested, though as he’s a doubter about extending the airport runway this would be a major point of difference with the mayor. (Unless of course Justin is pulling back from his earlier enthusiasm.)

This article has been updated since it was first published in February.

Justin Lester told the DomPost on Sunday: “Several councillors have put themselves forward [for the position of deputy mayor], so I have met with all of them but no decision has been made yet.”


  1. Justin Lester, 24. September 2017, 12:16

    Congrats Paul – we’re going to miss you at WCC, but you’ll do a great job as Rongotai MP. [via twitter]

  2. Mavis, 24. September 2017, 15:00

    We need somebody with the same political outlook as Justin, somebody who can be relied on to vote for what the developers want in Wellington and who thinks that Wainuiomata is the ideal place to build our affordable housing.

  3. CPH, 24. September 2017, 20:52

    Justin needs to make a choice between the ideologues and the inexperienced.

  4. Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network, 27. September 2017, 17:21

    It’s Jill Day