Out west there are two seats in the Waitakere Ward, a seat in the Whau ward and a seat in the Rodney ward up for grabs.
The Whau ward contest is quite straight forward. Labour is running a branded campaign in the ward and its candidate for Council is Ross Clow. He has considerable experience. He was a Waitakere City Councillor for two terms and has chaired the Portage Licensing Trust for a substantial period of time.
He is intending to unseat current Councillor Noelene Raffles who has represented the area for some time. She was a C&R candidate at the last election but interestingly this time she has described herself as an independent although C&R are still supporting her re-election.
In 2010 there were four candidates, Clow, Raffles, a Manukau planner coincidentally called John Kirwan (not the rugby player) and Ruby Manukia-Schaumkell who ran an energetic campaign and was almost elected to the local board. Her support (she gained 3,300 votes) should directly transfer to Ross and his chances of being elected should be good. Last time Ross came second to Raffles by less than 400.
This time there is only one other candidate, Duncan MacDonald who is the deputy chair of the Local Board. He stood with Noeline last time on a C&R/Community First ticket. I suspect he is now no longer on her christmas card list and he should take votes off her.
My pick is that Clow should win this seat comfortably.
The Waitakere ward will be an interesting contest. Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is standing again. Her liberal and environmental credentials, as well as her westie credentials, are impeccable and she should be re-elected. She has been a loyal supporter of Len Brown but has when it has mattered voted against him. For instance on votes concerning the POAL dispute she has voted on the side of the workers. My prediction is that she will be re-elected comfortably. She is a westie environmentalist progressive so what is there not to support?
The focus will be on who will be the second successful candidate. Sandra Coney is standing down from Council and running for the local board instead.
There are a total of eight candidates. Former National MP Brian Neeson will be trying to raise his profile for the Upper Harbour Board by running a Council campaign. His wife Vanessa Neeson who is running for the local board will be looking to gain some voter support coming from his campaign. I predict there will be large “Neeson” billboards dotting the westie landscape any time soon.
The candidates with the best prospects will be former National list candidate Linda Cooper on the right and former Labour list candidate Christine Rose on the left. Although Linda is National through and through she is standing as an independent. Watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing. Linda is another “independent” council candidate who is nevertheless being endorsed by C&R.
Christine is intelligent, a dedicated environmentalist and warm and engaging. She has considerable previous Local Government experience having served on Rodney District Council and the Auckland Regional Council. She has been formally endorsed by Sandra Coney. She would represent the eco city ethic of the west well.
The other candidates should not threaten.
Further north in Rodney there are only two candidates, sitting Councillor and former Rodney Mayor Penny Webster and local board member Stephen Garner. Webster should romp home.
Overall the progressive/conservative split for these seats should be 3 to 1 although on a bad day it could be shared evenly.
Disclaimer – I am supporting Christine Rose and Ross Clow in their efforts to be elected to the Waitakare and Whau ward contests.