I have just finished watching Q+A on time delay. In it, both former National Party President Michelle Boag and Unite Union head Matt McCarten made the claim that if Len Brown was to resign before before sworn in for his second term as mayor of Auckland City, that the second-placed candidate would be declared elected and be sworn in.
This is false.
Whatever the reason any New Zealand mayor-elect may not take up office, the result is a by-election. If a mayor (or councillor) leaves office during the term, there is a by-election unless there are less than 12 months to the next full council election.
If a mayor-elect dies, or is disqualified between the vote and the swearing in, there is a by-election. The runner-up can never simply assume the office of mayor. The Local Electoral Act simply does not allow it. I suppose it could. But as that would be really really stupid, it doesn't.
The legislation is clear. The Council of the Auckland "super city" was created under the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act. Section 8 of that law applies the Local Electoral Act to elections for the Council, including the mayoral election. Section 117 of the Local Electoral Act includes the following:
If a vacancy occurs in the office of a member of a local authority or in the office of an elected member of a community board more than 12 months before the next triennial general election, the vacancy must be filled by an election under this Act.
This includes the mayor (see the definition of 'member of a local authority' in section 5).
I do not expect everyone called upon to comment on the political ramifications of matter affected a local body mayor to know this. Before I was asked a week or so ago, I wasn't certain of this. But, seriously, why would you not check before making this claim? And if you are a journalist covering the matter, and are going to be on a panel discussing the possibility of a resignation, why would you not find out what would happen if there is a resignation?