A shortlist of Labour candidates who could run against independent mayor Lutfur Rahman in Tower Hamlets’ 2014 election has been unveiled.
Four councillors have been chosen by a selection panel, following an interview process that took place over the weekend.
The list includes Councillor Helal Abbas, the last council leader to run the Town Hall before the borough voted for a directly elected mayor. If chosen, Abbas will be taking Rahman on for the second time after being defeated by him in 2010.
Abbas faces another former council leader, John Biggs, who is currently in his fourth term as London Assembly Member for City and East.
Biggs said he is “delighted” to have made it to the shortlist but “disappointed that some good colleagues did not make it.”
Biggs has already secured the support of MP Jim Fitzpatrick, as well as a range of councillors such as Joshua Peck and various members of the London Assembly.
Councillors John Pierce, Amy Whitelock and Carlo Gibbs voiced their support for another nominee, Mile End East councillor Rachael Saunders.
Whitelock said : “Saunders is passionate about challenging inequality.
“She will make Tower Hamlets a fairer place.”
If elected, Saunders would be the borough’s first female mayor.
Councillor Sirajul Islam, a former deputy council leader, is also being considered
Islam said he feels both “privileged” and “excited” to be selected as a potential Labour candidate, and said that he hopes to see a Labour mayor for Tower Hamlets next year
Former deputy council leader David Edgar and Opposition deputy leader Motin Uz-Zaman are among others who lost out at the interview stage and didn’t make it to the shortlist.
Members of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party will select one of the four candidates on April 6, 2013, in a one-member, one-vote ballot to determine who will challenge Mayor Rahman in May 2014.