There’s no denying Jim Anderton’s mayoral campaign got a lot harder last week. He had been the favourite by a long, long way but the Christchurch earthquake changed things.
It reminds me of thinking on the morning of 9/11: ‘as long as Bush doesn’t totally lose it, he’s just won re-election’. Bush, too, had been very unpopular but handling a disaster competently gets rewarded. And you have to admit that Bob Parker has handled the earthquake recovery well (even if he has been a bit keen to get on camera for a cynic’s liking). It would be no shame for Anderton if he doesn’t win in these circumstances.
But none of this changes the reasons that Parker was so deeply unpopular. He has been a secretive and elitist mayor, in the pocket of his developer mates. Anderton promises to turn things around by running an open and accountable council that works in the interests of the people.
Anderton appears to be the underdog now (don’t confuse the ipredict stocks for polls, they’re just guesses from a mainly rightwing group of self-appointed pundits) but Anderton’s been fighting as the underdog his entire political career, and winning more often than not.
Announcing that he will resign from Parliament if he wins the mayoralty is a good move. Previously, Anderton could argue that he would only be doing both jobs for a few months (until the July election) and he was saving the taxpayer half a million dollars for a by-election. That argument doesn’t stack up now. Christchurch needs Anderton full-time.
Tonight, Anderton is holding a community meeting that’s a campaign re-launch/community forum on the earthquake:
Jim will be holding a city-wide community meeting at the Woolston Club, 43 Hargood Street, Woolston, on Tuesday September 14th commencing at 7.00pm for all those who wish to hear from an earthquake engineer, representatives of architects, engineers and heritage professions as well as community leaders, as to what has happened to Christchurch and how best we can go about rebuilding it.
The people’s views will also be heard, help given to those in need and an inclusive path mapped out as to how we can all now be part of the solution as we plan to make Christchurch even better, stronger and more prosperous for its next 100 years.
Good on ya, Jim. My money’s on you. Parker’s shone in the past week but people won’t forget why they wanted shot of him and you in his stead.