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Andy Foster says Peter Jackson will not be influencing new city council

Report from RNZ
Wellington mayoral frontrunner Andy Foster says he was questioning a controversial housing development development long before Sir Peter Jackson spoke out against it.

Voters in the capital still don’t know for sure this morning who’ll take the mayoral office – about 90 percent of the votes have been counted but a large number of last-minute ballots mean the winner will probably not be known until around midday.

Mr Foster is leading incumbent Justin Lester by 715 votes, with more than 5500 special votes yet to be counted.

Mr Foster told RNZ’s Insight that if he was elected mayor Sir Peter Jackson would not be influencing what happened within the new council.

“We haven’t had any policy discussions whatsoever. I think what he and Fran have done is to back me because they believed in me.

“They saw what I was standing for and on the Shelly Bay issue I’ve been standing against what’s currently proposed for four-and-a-half years so long before they said anything at all, so I’m just being consistent with what I’ve always been saying.”

A review of the project had been on the cards since 2017 when the council voted to sell and lease the land to The Wellington Company for development. Mr Foster has previously said he wanted to investigate how the council had done its job in making the area a Special Housing Area.

Mr Foster, who’s been a councillor since 1992, has said previously he had a budget of $56,000 for his campaign compared with his main rival’s spend of $21,000. He said it was only half what Mr Lester had spent to win the mayoralty at the last election so the incumbent had no grounds for complaint.

The Jacksons were not the only backers who believed in what he was campaigning on, he said. “To be clear it’s Peter and Fran [Jackson] and also several other substantial donors as well. I think people have said to me they wanted a change…You do need support like that to be able to run a campaign when you’re challenging an incumbent who has all the advantages of office and also a substantial political party behind him.”

Mr Foster said he wanted to be mayor so he could lead a team, and one of his most important jobs would be to introduce the budget which would be much easier to influence as mayor.

Mayor Justin Lester told Insight that while he knew special votes tended to favour the left, “at 700 votes down, I’m realistic, that’s a big turnaround.”

He said it was ironic that Wellington’s troubled bus system had made a difference, because voters were frustrated with it. “…People haven’t understood potentially that Wellington City doesn’t run the buses”

He said while it might have politically expedient to criticise the regional council, it doesn’t help relationships and “is not the right thing to do”.

He spent Saturday evening with friends and family, and celebrated other Labour candidates who have been elected.

He said whatever the outcome, he wished the best for the council, because he also wanted the best for Wellington.

3 comments:

  1. Local, 13. October 2019, 11:18

    I find it ironic that there is now some enquiry into the possible influence of a backer (Sir Peter Jackson) of a candidate who may become mayor. For whatever reason that backing has been overtly (and unusually) transparent and before the election.
    The backing ( and project influence) of past mayors by some developers and those with considerable means has never been known prior to the election, and never investigated for later influence, yet it would appear to have been considerable.

     
  2. michael, 13. October 2019, 17:40

    @ local = well said. There has been little scrutiny of the roles that developers have played over the years or of their influence on council. Having said that, Andy Foster is a career councillor and for 27 years has been party to these decisions and the lack of transparency surrounding them. So probably little will change, unless a better balanced council and a new CEO can make a difference. Let’s give Andy a chance but unless things do change drastically it is likely he will also be a one term Mayor because Wellingtonians have clearly had enough.

     
  3. CC, 13. October 2019, 23:14

    Great – Shelley Bay is now under the microscope. Next target needs to be the more secretive deals that are turning the waterfront into the Great Wall of Willis Bond. Hopefully the new Mayor Council and CEO will look more closely at the Council unit that has been responsible since morphing through various incarnations after losing millions as Wellington Waterfront Ltd.

     

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