Ralston puts his hand up

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Media star Bill Ralston last night launched his campaign for the Auckland Council’s Waitemata & Gulf seat with a stinging attack on council leadership, a vow to sell council-owned assets, and support for joint ventures with business.

The 100 or so Aucklanders who filled Sapphire Room at Ponsonby Central included many familiar faces, including arts maven Hamish Keith, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, movie men Barrie Everard & Bill Gavin, celebrated celebrant Julia Cameron, National Party chiefs Sue Wood & Michelle Boag (with husband Merv Bennett), lawyer Karen Soich, socialite Sally Ridge, broadcaster Mark Sainsbury, PR legend Angela Griffin, hair salon star Rodney Wayne, and celebrated ad creative Simon Shattky.

Not usually given to overt political messages, Ralston would have surprised quite a few with his sensible policies.

He supports selling council assets, including its 49% share of Ports of Auckland and its Auckland Airport shares, arguing that the lost interest would be more than replaced by a reduction in loans.

Ralston is standing as an independent but – as last night’s guest list indicates – he has links to National. The Waitemata/Gulf seat is currently held by left-leaning Mike Lee, who may yet seek a third term at the local elections in October.

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