Call for Lee to step down
A ratepayer lobby group is calling for an Auckland councillor to step down while she campaigns for Parliament.
In early March Denise Lee was elected by the National party as its candidate for the Maungakiekie electorate.
Lee, who has lived in the electorate for 20 years, is currently the Maungakiekie-Tamaki ward.
Auckland Ratepayers Alliance spokeswoman Jo Holmes said Lee should stand down while she campaigns in the lead up to the 2017 general election.
‘‘In the same way many called out Phil Goff for drawing an MP’s salary while campaigning to become mayor, it is totally inappropriate for councillor Lee to continue to be a councillor by name, while absent campaigning,’’ Holmes said.
Holmes said ratepayers were paying for her to be a councillor, not to fund her parliamentary ambitions.
Information obtained by the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance from the council shows the estimated cost of a by-election would be $115,000.
The Auckland Council website says councillors are paid an annual salary of $105,800.
Holmes said Lee should follow Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule, also standing for Parliament, who was standing down as mayor.
‘‘We are calling on councillor Lee to do the same, so ratepayers in the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Council ward continue to have a full-time representative on the council,’’ Holmes said.
Current Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga announced in December he would be quitting politics.
Lee, who is looking to take his place, said she had a public track record of performing well with her council duties.
‘‘Had I known Sam was retiring before I ran for council, I more than likely would not have run and instead focused on running for Parliament,’’ Lee said.
Lee said she was confident ratepayers would still get the services they expect from her during the campaign.
‘‘As a working mum, I know what it’s like to juggle a lot of things while still giving them my all,’’ she said.
If Lee is successful in her campaign, a by-election will be held for her councillor position. Previously Lee said she had been approached by several people interested in filling her councillor ward seat.
Councillor Denise Lee.