Brown is back but may have to work harder

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Re­turned mayor Len Brown will have to work harder to get his poli­cies through fol­low­ing Auck­land Coun­cil tak­ing a slight shift to the right in the lo­cal body elec­tions, com­men­ta­tors say.

Mr Brown won back the may­oralty with 162,675 votes, a ma­jor­ity of 55,003, at the week­end but the com­po­si­tion of the coun­cil has changed with the loss of left-lean­ing coun­cil­lors.

Labour mem­ber Richard Northey was ousted in the Maun­gakiekie-Ta­maki ward by Na­tional Party mem­ber Denise Krum, and Chris Darby, thought to be so­cially lib­eral but fis­cally con­ser­va­tive, re­placed Ann Hart­ley on the North Shore.

The next best can­di­date for mayor, John Palino, ac­crued a more-than-ex­pected 107,672 votes which po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Matthew Hooton says will give right wing can­di­dates the con­fi­dence next time around.

Mr Hooton says the mayor will have to ‘‘govern from the cen­tre’’.

Left-lean­ing com­men­ta­tor Chris Trot­ter agrees the left has taken a hit, but says the re­sult would not af­fect pol­icy-mak­ing de­ci­sions greatly.

‘‘I think on most cru­cial is­sues the mayor, us­ing his cast­ing vote, will still be able to pre­vail but not as com­fort­ably as he used to when there were two or three more ob­vi­ously cen­tre-left peo­ple.’’

The low voter turnout of 34 per cent has prompted Mr Brown to call for a ma­jor re­vamp of the lo­cal body vot­ing sys­tem.

He de­scribes the turnout as ‘‘low’’ and says it is time to em­brace on­line vot­ing in a bid to en­cour­age ‘‘bet­ter en­gage­ment’’ with the com­mu­nity.

‘‘We will do on­line vot­ing next time, there is no doubt about that.’’

Mr Brown says the be­lief amongst some in Auck­land that his re-elec­tion was a cer­tainty could have been an­other ex­pla­na­tion for any voter ap­a­thy.

He says he is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing what he de­scribes as a ‘‘very good work­ing re­la­tion­ship’’ with Prime Min­is­ter John Key. ‘‘We have some agree­ment around the area of trans­porta­tion and hous­ing.’’

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