Wayne Brown sat down with NZ Herald reporter Bernard Orsman to discuss his Mayoral Champaign and policies leading up to the Auckland Mayoral Election. Video / Carson Bluck
The financial backers of Viv Beck’s abandoned Auckland Mayoral campaign have “unreservedly” supported Wayne Brown in the race – but Beck herself refuses to explicitly name and endorse her former rival.
It is also understood
that Beck was privately talked into pulling out of her Mayoral run last week by people close to her campaign.
In a statement released to the Herald, The Auckland Society made up of 15 business figures and local government backroom organisers have sung Brown’s praises less than a week after Beck bowed out of her controversy-hampered campaign.
The Auckland Society Incorporated consists of property developer Andrew Krukziener, managing director of online marketing company Hello Ltd, James Polhill, and a number of local government politicians running under the Communities and Residents (C&R) party ticket.
The Society was set up as the vehicle to collect donations for Beck’s campaign, but it is unclear how much was raised in reality. There were claims of millions of dollars pledged, but also a $353,000 unpaid campaign debt that dogged Beck in her final weeks.
“Wayne Brown is Auckland’s only hope for change and a prosperous future. His track record speaks for itself,” the statement from The Auckland Society Incorporated said.
“The role of Mayor is a serious business and Wayne has an enormous amount of experience as a successful engineer, as a businessman in his own right, as a Mayor and as a turnaround expert chairing large complex organisations.”
Brown’s campaign team said they acknowledged the endorsement when questioned by the Herald.
Beck told the Herald today: “By stepping aside, I’ve narrowed the field for the centre-right and it’s up to the voters to decide on the Mayor they want”.
The former chief executive of Auckland central business association, Heart of the City, officially bowed out of the Mayoral race on September 16.
But Beck would not explicitly endorse Brown, or name him, and it is understood sources within Beck’s former campaign are less than enthusiastic about Brown as a future Auckland Mayor.
Beck would also not comment on claims it was Auckland Society figures who came to her last week to convince her to pull out of her campaign and clear the way for Brown to go head to head with Labour-endorsed candidate Efeso Collins.
Beck’s Mayoral campaign had been endorsed by C&R, which is the de facto arm of the National Party in Auckland local body politics. There are five C&R figures among the Auckland Society’s members.
On August 29, the Herald reported that Beck’s campaign had an unpaid bill of $353,000 from advertising agency Hello Ltd which locked the campaign team out of their Facebook account and website.
As part of the email which revealed this debt, it was also claimed that the budget for Beck’s campaign was $4 million, and then revised down to $2.2 million.
Krukziener, had also said he had supported Beck with a “six-figure pledge” which had been paid in two tranches. He said he had also organised for “other parties who have made substantial pledges”.
The emergence of the $353,000 debt proved a massive disruption to Beck’s campaign.
C & R President Kit Parkinson was adamant the bill had been paid several days before the release of an email revealing the $353,000 figure, and now describes the incident as a beat-up.
Bizarrely, both Polhill from Hello Ltd and C&R President Kit Parkinson are both members of The Auckland Society Incorporated.
But now the original backers of Beck have unified and provided a ringing endorsement of former Far North Mayor and public sector executive Wayne Brown.
“The Auckland Society unreservedly supports Wayne Brown in his bid to be Mayor of Auckland and calls on all Aucklanders who care about the future of our great city to do the same,” the statement from The Auckland Society Incorporated said.
“He has had four extremely successful careers that have prepared him perfectly to run Auckland city. Our best mayors, amongst them Sir Dove Meyer Robinson and Les Mills, were all successful businessmen in their own right prior to being the mayor of Auckland.”