Wellington mayoral race heats up with debate

Wellington mayoral race heats up with debate

The day after Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown announced she wouldn't seek another term, six remaining mayoral hopefuls have taken part in their first televised debate.

They discussed housing, transport, rates and roads, but there was very little they could actually agree on.

Saturday morning's mayoral debate lasted all of five minutes before the bickering began, which did little to dispel claims that the Wellington City Council is in crisis.

"Wellington Council has been gripped by dysfunction, described by a former staff member as being a bit toxic. I think it's going to need new blood to lead the city," said Nick Leggett.

Mr Leggett is the only outsider in the debate. He's currently the Mayor of Porirua. The other five are part of the allegedly "toxic" council.

"I actually disagree with that, and I think it's been a very convenient sort of headline really," Jo Coughlin said in response to Mr Leggett's statement.

Helene Ritchie didn't see eye to eye with Mr Leggett either.

"I don't agree that the council has been toxic. But what I would say [is] the council has been in crisis."

Bickering aside, there were ideas about how to improve Wellington.

Ms Coughlin is all about roads and getting "four lanes to the planes", and claims she can unlock $1 billion of funding that the Government has put aside for Wellington.

"They're just waiting for Wellington to want to spend it," she said.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester wants more quality housing and a freeze on public transport fares, housing and public transport, while Nicola Young wants to pedestrian-ise Lambton Quay.

On residential rates rises, they finally agreed, with none of them saying they would pay for their projects by increasing rates.

Only six candidates could fit in the studio for the day's debate, though there is one other candidate - public policy analyst Keith Johnson.

And with nominations not closing for another week, the race for mayor could be set to get even more crowded.