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Justin Lester launches campaign for Wellington Mayor

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, April 4th, 2016 - 35 comments
Categories: local body elections - Tags: ,

Current Deputy Mayor of Wellington Justin Lester launched his campaign for the mayoralty yesterday, running on a Labour ticket:

From Stuff:

Wellington mayoral candidate Justin Lester has launched his campaign promising first-home builders a $5000 rates rebate, and children free entry to council pools.

Lester also promised to scrap the fees businesses pay to have outdoor dining on public land, and to tackle the council’s “ingrained sexism” by having more senior female employees, if elected mayor in October.

Labour’s candidate for the Wellington mayoralty laid out his plan for the city in front of a few hundred people at the Wharewaka on Sunday, with his chosen deputy Paul Eagle at his side and party leader Andrew Little in the audience.


* Lives in Johnsonville with wife Liz and their daughters Madeleine, 5, and Harriet, 3.

* Has a law degree from Otago University and a Master of Laws from Heidelberg University.

* Has an employment background in property and asset management, as well as commercial real estate.

* Co-founded and owns the Kapai chain of food stores.

* Board member of Wellington SPCA and former board member of Capital Football.

* First elected as a city councillor for the northern ward in 2010 and has been Wellington’s deputy mayor since 2013.

More info at Justin Lester’s campaign website.

35 comments on “Justin Lester launches campaign for Wellington Mayor ”

  1. Northsider 1

    He is Labour but using ACT colours? WTF?

    No wonder the Labour “Party-Vote” is so weak in Wellington Central. They need a new MP there to provide some Labour focused leadership.

    • Rosie 1.1

      Yellow and black are the Wellington City Council colours. I’m guessing that’s why he’s used them.

  2. Ad 2

    Which one is Sanders, which is Clinton, which one is the Trump candidate?

    I don’t know which Wellington candidate to cheer for.

    • Northsider 2.1

      Lister is Not Trump: he has no name recognition.
      Lister is Not Sanders: he has no core to his policies; they are a mishmash of populist blankets and beads.

      Paul Eagle is Lister’s running-mate so therefore Lister is annointed by the Robertson/King clique. That is how Little was invited to attend. Faafoi and Hipkins will be running around supporting him. Clare Curren will give him “Communications” advice. Ardern might make a royal visit to favour him.

      Who to cheer for? Fucking depressing.

  3. DoublePlusGood 3

    Is he one of the bunch that are slimily involved with property developers or not? I can’t find good information about this.
    Also, he doesn’t say anything about PT or the airport in the video. Curious.

    • Rosie 3.1

      He’s on the executive for the Wellington branch of the Property Council New Zealand, an advocacy group for developers.


      Interestingly, according to the Dominion Post he voted against the proposed new MDH development in Newlands a couple of weeks ago. It still went through however, as there were enough votes.

      • DoublePlusGood 3.1.1

        Right, so entirely not the sort of person the Labour party should be supporting – and Petertoo’s comments in Open Mike further show that Labour should have nothing to do with Justin Lester.

        • Rosie

          Well DoublePlusGood, stay curious, is all I’ve got to say.

          I’ve got to “zip it sweetie”. I had a “phone call” a few weeks back…………To this day I don’t how my cell phone number was obtained, or whether my privacy was breached in the way my number was obtained or what the purpose of the call was but as a result I do feel some what discouraged about continuing to speak out against WCC issues. – I probably shouldn’t even have looked at this post.

          All I can say is weigh up your values with those of the candidates when it comes time to vote, not that you need anyone to tell you that 🙂

          • weizguy

            A phone call? I’m intrigued… Can you say more?

            • Rosie

              I’m intrigued too. I’m not comfortable with going into it but I can say it was weird that it was out of the blue and not related to any of my usual business with WCC to do with the relentless problems on the development where I live.

              btw, weizguy, I’m from the “I want to believe” camp, and in fact I see good progress within the Labour Party at a central government level this year that does offer me hope. But what I would ask you, at the local government level, is have you had any close dealings with the WCC and the way it functions?

              I have. Prior to my development issues arising I was a former CWB supporter and voted for her twice. Out here in the Northern Burbs where Justin is our councillor I was in favour of him too. But to cut 18 months of a very long, and at times traumatic, story short I have been left completely disillusioned with the city’s leadership and their responsibility to the residents and the environment.

              You may have heard things that appealed to you in speeches but I’ve heard other things straight from the horses mouth that leave me disappointed.

              • weizguy

                My engagement through the council has been primarily through the party and I’m generally impressed with the conversations I’ve had. Southside, where I am, I’m intrigued by the “debate” around the cycleway – which seems to be the result of all players taking a position and refusing to see that there might be another side to the story.

                To give context, I’m in favour of cycleways in principle, but I don’t like the aesthetics of the Island Bay version. Having said that, I don’t think the reaction, particularly by the residents association, has been proportionate or particularly productive. Then again, I don’t want to be the tone Police. I think there’s a compromise that will work out for everyone, but it will be that, a compromise. I’d far rather both parties spend time working out what that compromise is.

                • Liberal Realist

                  To give context, I’m in favour of cycleways in principle, but I don’t like the aesthetics of the Island Bay version. Having said that, I don’t think the reaction, particularly by the residents association, has been proportionate or particularly productive. Then again, I don’t want to be the tone Police. I think there’s a compromise that will work out for everyone, but it will be that, a compromise. I’d far rather both parties spend time working out what that compromise is.


                  I’m a bay local and completely agree with your comments.

                  I am also in favour of cycleways but find the layout of the IB cycleway has created as many hazards as it was supposed to remove.

                  The reaction from both sides (RA & Lobby Groups) hasn’t been either proportionate nor productive in my view. Neither group appears to be willing to compromise on the matter.

                  Seems to me like the council when ahead with the initiative without understanding the impact of the change.

                  • TTD

                    I wonder what new hazards the Island bay Cycle way has created?.
                    genuine question?
                    I was wandering along the parade Island Bay yesterday and I saw a family going to school/kindergarten, v small kids on pavement riding scooters. The older kid 5ish yrs old on his new bike on the cycleway completely separated from traffic grinning from ear to ear. He would not have done that on old cycle way.
                    When there is a City to Sea bike track in 5 years time and whole families come out to the seaside by bike. Then we can look back and judge the fine vision the cycle track is.

        • weizguy

          Petertoo’s comments in OpenMike demonstrated that he hadn’t paid enough attention to the detail of Lester’s rates rebate proposal. The response to his concern about lining the pockets of developers was front and centre in the candidate’s announcement speech.

          Seriously, I have to wonder whether certain parts of the left are the slightest bit interested in getting progressives elected. Some of our brethren seem to spend more time talking down the perceived faults of allies than they do finding a way to help.

          • DoublePlusGood

            It’s more like we’re not keen on electing people who are just pretending to be progressives to get elected. We’ve had enough of the damage those types do to the country.
            Given Lester’s connections it seems quite likely that he’s one of those.
            Now of course, if we get some progressives that aren’t compromised, we’re generally pretty keen on getting them elected.

            • weizguy

              So because he’s got connections, he can’t be progressive?

              I get annoyed with the suggestion that someone who has business contacts can’t be progressive. It’s a shooting ourselves in the (collective) foot with no true scotsman puritanism. Sure, he might be lying about his motivations for running for mayor, he might be lying about why politics is important, but I’m not prepared to jump to that conclusion because he happens to have links to groups that concern you.

              On that note, I have to profess my ignorance about why the property council is so bad. From a quick scan of their press releases, I disagree with their position on the RMA, but welcome their push for early planning for sea level rises. In essence, I want to know why it is that they’re inherently evil (such that any involvement with them is toxic) rather than just a group that represents a different perspective.

              • Petertoo

                Haven’t been around much eh Weizguy? Instead of accepting the political PR, try joining a few dots.

                • weizguy

                  Lovely – condescending, but content free.

                  I’ve been around long enough to understand spin, I just don’t know anything about this particular group. I’ve also been around long enough to know that it’s a good idea to have information before jumping to conclusions. Hence the question.

                  Do you have any information that would help, or just snark?

              • Rich

                Business != property

                I wouldn’t object necessarily to a councillor being in any other business: tech, hospo, international arms dealing.

                But the interests of the property industry are opposite to the interests of most people who want reasonably priced places to live and work in a functional city – the property industry wants to drive up prices so they make a profit on their (often bad) investments.

                The ‘shake off Wellington’s “lethargy”‘ line is thinly disguised code for “pour lots of concrete”. Wellington works fine socially and economically for most people – we don’t need new runways and highways – those are the agenda of the Jones’ and Morrisons who see council as a source of dollars for their personal companies.

        • Ovid

          At least Wellington has STV as its voting system for mayor. He may warrant a middling ranking depending on the other candidates.

  4. swordfish 4

    Thing is: if you want to become Mayor of Wellington City you’re probably going to have to stand on at least a vaguely Centre-Left ticket. Back in 2001, under FPP, Thatcherite Prenders won on just a third of the vote and then managed to get re-elected over the next couple of (STV) Elections through a mix of very weak alternative Centre-Left candidates and, more importantly, the incumbency effect.

    But with STV, it’s difficult to see how a Right-Wing candidate is going to win in the first place (in order for the incumbency effect to then keep them in power over subsequent elections). Along with Dunedin, Wellington City is just about the only remaining centre where the Left continue to beat the Right in General Elections.

    Someone like Lester, with Mayoral aspirations, was probably always going to have make at least a few obligatory gestures in the direction of Social Democracy.

  5. Rich 5

    Gifting money to property developers, free use of public land for bar owners. Labour?

    (I suppose it goes with our allegedly “Green” local mayor failing to oppose airport runway extensions).

    Not that I have anything against bar owners (property spivs are another story,) but if people want to occupy public property, they should pay rent. Would Lester and Eagle let somebody use their own garden as a cafe for free?). The better solution would be to liberalise drinking laws so, like in Europe, it isn’t illegal to take a drink outside a bar.

  6. swordfish 6

    And I have to say Paul Eagle’s a bit of a shocker. Elected as Labour councillor for the staunchly Left-leaning Southern ward, then teams up with Right-Wing National Party doyen, fierce opponent of the living wage, and Lambton ward councillor, Nicola Young, to run on a joint Mayor/Deputy Mayor ticket. He told reporters at the time that he’ll be happy to support Young and will be encouraging Labour voters to follow suit.

    And then, of course, flip flops once Lester announces his intentions. I don’t care where, as long as I’m Deputy Mayor seems to be the philosophy.

    Reminds me of what I’ve heard about my Grandmother’s time as a Labour City Councillor in Wellington during the 1940s-60s. While she and Labour Mayor Frank Kitts and two or three other Labour councillors voted largely in line with the Wellington Labour manifesto on which they were elected, a few other Labour councillors cheerfully voted with the Right on some pretty Tory-friendly policies. Caused quite a storm among Labour activists in the branches around Wellington.

    • TTD 6.1

      Yes ,Paul Eagle A progressive? I don’t think so . I went to the public meeting about the Island Bay cycle way. He was appalling, supporting a very residents dubius survey. And knowing the results before anyone else. There was some dodgy dealings there alright. I shall certainly be campaigning in the Southern ward to have him turfed out

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      Seems like these issues with the Labour Party are long standing on not just from the 1980s then.

      • swordfish 6.2.1

        Yeah, I think in Britain they used to call it the Duchess-ification of Labour politicians. Probably a reference to Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald.

        The son of a poor Scots farm girl, he rises through the Independent Labour Party to become Prime Minister in 1924 in the first British Labour Government (albeit a minority one dependent on Liberal support), becomes PM again with the election of the second Labour Govt, just as the Great Depression is really starting to bite in 1929. Gives in to enormous Tory and Liberal pressure to ‘balance the budget’ by slashing public sector wages and draconian cuts in public spending, causing a major split in Cabinet and severe criticism from both the Parliamentary Labour Party and the wider labour movement (Riots broke out in Manchester and Glasgow over the betrayal).

        Ramsay MacDonald then forms a National Government with the Tories and Liberals, is expelled from the Labour Party and forms a new “National Labour” Party. On his way to see King George V to tender his resignation as a preliminary to forming the National government, he tells Labour Chancellor Philip Snowden: “Tomorrow every Duchess in London will be wanting to kiss me”

        After his wife’s death, he was in a relationship with Lady Margaret Sackville and
        then, once Labour came to power in 1924, he was introduced onto the society dinner circuit and throughout the 20s and 30s spent most of his leisure time socialising with the English Aristocracy and Upper Middle Classes – frequently entertained by the leading society hostess Lady Londonderry, whose husband was a Conservative Cabinet Minister.

        So there’s this idea that he was captured by the Conservative Establishment and dazzled by duchesses into betraying the people who had brought him to power.

        And that Duchess-ification became a kind of metaphor for all future betrayals and selling-out by Labour politicians who suddenly found themselves rubbing shoulders with the Establishment / Power Elite and increasingly adopting their lifestyles and interests.

        • TTD

          Ah so that is why Paul Eagle is hanging out with Nicola Young.

          • swordfish

            Yip. Can all be traced back to Lady Sackville and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the Duchess of Londonderry. And, what’s more, Eagle knows it. Although, in his case, it’s the Dowager of Miramar.

  7. feijoa 7

    I heard Justin Lester some time ago talk at a meeting about our local library. He came across to me clever and very articulate, and good at relating to his audience. However I had a feeling he may go with the wind depending on his audience, so , to me, he is more a man to be watched, rather than being the golden boy for the left.

  8. Liberal Realist 8

    I am wondering if Justin Lester thinks giving first time home builders a 5k rates rebate is a vote winner?

    How much would it cost? Will ratepayers support shouldering the cost of this subsidy?

    While I am all for supporting first home buyers, councils shouldn’t subsidise FHBs by way of a rates rebate paid for by the majority. Wouldn’t the money be far better spent on social housing to support those in need?

    • RedBaronCV 8.1

      I’m pretty under whelmed by the first home buyer rate subsidy.
      – As far as I can see there are very few sections in Wgtn city that are available for purchase so a home can be put on it – so it looks like an immediate subsidy to the developers of denser housing blocks.
      – it’s available to people who have never owned property in NZ including those with a resident visa. It does not exclude those who own property in other parts of the world. Given that a fair chunk of our migrants come in under the investment category ( buy houses with the $1.5m ) these wealthy migrants are going to get the subsidy ( I wouldn’t object to refugee category residents as much)
      – it’s still only subsiding the smallish group that can raise a deposit – not the bunch struggling to make rent etc. In other words a well off middle class subsidy.

      As to running your business on the footpath – I’m already tripping over enough stuff – there needs to be some restrictions on it before it spirals out of control. Otherwise I could park my car on the pavement and serve coffee out of it??

  9. Rich 9

    Do Labour have a selection process for council and mayoral candidates?

    AFAIK the Greens don’t, and it’s a flaw in their otherwise democratic party organisation – it seems that if somebody puts their hand up, they can become a candidate and if elected, they’re an incumbent forever.

    And Wade-Brown was a Green councillor but when she ran for mayor, became a small ‘green’.

    Of course, the right are totally dishonest and purport to be independents when they’ve previously been National or ACT parliamentary candidates or MPs.

    • TTD 9.1

      The Greens do have a selection process for local body candidates actually
      Put your name forward and see

      • Rich 9.1.1

        Documented anywhere?

        I wouldn’t be interested in being a councillor, too many old people in representative politics. I would be interested, were I a financial member, in having input into who gets selected.

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