Voting Local 2010

499 Responses

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  • Sacha,

    and the mayor was the leader who could command a majority of members

    Which is effectively what happens after the election anyway - when all those "independents" suddenly find they only have choice of two main voting blocs after all. Hence my cynicism.

    Local government runs its affairs more like First Past the Post than MMP, regardless of the voting method it uses at public elections. I think some otherwise smart voters are not grasping that, judging by arguments I've seen elsewhere recently. In a way it's a tribute to the effect of MMP government on our expectations.

    Committee chairs get casting votes which gives whoever appoints them a little more power - in Auckland for instance, that's the new supermayor. Otherwise it's simple majority decisions and the largest bloc wins (subject to the usual horse-trading and reading of shifting public opinion).

    Blocs often vote regardless of the quality of argument from other perspectives, though you have to hope it has some influence over time. The Mayor can be outvoted by an opposing bloc on any issue.

    Perversely, just like our previous national electoral system, strong competition from multiple players on one side can often gift a win to the other with an even smaller fraction of the total votes on that decision and of the public mandate.

    By all means, vote for an independent candidate if they most closely reflect your values and priorities - but do have some idea where their vote will go after you've elected them. And I agree, being sure of that takes more info that we're getting.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    From the recent NZ Herald Auckland mayoral candidate debate, here's their clip about "democracy", 16 minutes. Haven't watched it yet myself but hope it's useful and keen to hear feedback. Can't seem to get the other clips to load at the moment, but there are ones on Transport and Infrastructure and an edited overall Summary.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Quote of the day,
    "We are talking to our IT people about how to disable it."

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    Finally my good friend Geraldine Tait is running for council in the Waikouaiti/Waitati/Port Chalmers/Ravensbourne ward she's a feisty independent local activist and I hope she wins

    With you on all those points, Paul. She's on the Community Vision ticket, which is a local left/green coalition, running strongly on a recycled shoestring.

    I can't vote for Central Ward candidates, but if I could I'd vote for them, plus a few Greater Dunedin candidates - Jinty, Shane and Sam, and Paul Hudson, and maybe a couple of the other current crop of Councillors. And Hawkins/Cull, 1/2 for Mayor

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    One thing to note - getting elected is expensive - even here in little old Dunedin - $200 deposit - $4-500 each if you want to appear in the advertorial in the 2 free local weeklies (they publish actual candidates statements after voting starts but if you want presence in the daily paper you're going to spend 1000s - our mayor just bought a 3 page full colour advertisment in one of the free papers - that has to be worth $5k or more. I'd love to know what his fount of money is - someone must be desperate to get him reelected - I guess we'll find out who bought him after the election is done.

    In Dunedin we've switched from 3 city wards to 1 big one - it means that to get elected you need name recognition - it's a great boon for the incumbents (who naturally voted for it of course) but means that newer candidates have to spend big money to get elected - you can't stand on the street corner in the shopping district in the middle of your ward and shake hands to get people's votes any more

    It seems to have pushed people into more print advertising and fewer neighbourhood signs and the like. I couldn't even get a sign from the candidate of my choice, even after asking nicely twice - and it's actually illegal to make your own (read the Local Body Electoral act) without written permission - the city has careful places set out for public signs - most of them are in Middlemarch or out on the Taieri plains - only 3 in the city, none at all in the central city, I have to go out of my way to see anything - downtown though seems full of clandestine anti-incumbent stuff without which we'd hardly know there's an election on - I was driving thru Auckland a couple of days ago - it seems there really is an election going on there.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    JLM - I agree with your picks for the central ward - except for Paul Hudson who is NOT part of the Greater Dunedin slate and is in fact one of the architects of our current debt crisis

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    yeah a bunch of candidates here in Dunedin were to me quite unelectable - they didn't offer anything but themselves - no plans, no policy, no idea of where they stand on the issues (will you continue to shovel buckets of public debt into the stadium white elephant so that the rugby boys will keep inviting you to their parties?)

    Personally I have mixed feelings about the stadium, so that wasn't too useful a voting guide.

    I tended to vote for left-looking or green candidates, but any candidates who seemed to largely just be fanatically anti-stadium and not much else (eg. Bev Butler, whose campaign blurb included "I was a maths teacher so I understand city council finances" was one) I left unordered.

    There were hints about public transport being a big upcoming issue in Dunedin (a couple of candidates have talked about taking it over from the ORC), but I've seen very little in terms of good proposals in the campaigning, which is disappointing. Anyone who'd pushed the harbour side cycle-way in their blurb would have got a vote just on that basis.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    I don't know the inner machinations of the Council, except for knowing Hudson is chair of the DCC holding company, which has done quite nicely up till the current debacle. I just know in my dealings with him he has struck me as a non-egotistical individual who is capable of changing his mind when presented with the right information. That's enough for me.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Upthread, re benefits, Ben said:

    And yet if you collect a pension you must not be out of NZ for more than 6 months, otherwise you lose it. Whether you spent your life earning it or not.

    I wonder if that's not a very crude form of means testing? Absent individual accounts, the value of any entitlement is hard to fix. Still, rude.

    It's a classic case of our need to invest in civics education and ongoing broad publicity campaigns, when a smart voter doesn't have basic information about what different bodies even do, let alone their influence over time or how different political potiions might shape that.

    Sacha, I agree but also wonder if the arrangements aren't unduly complex? Certainly that's true in Australia where I am of the view there's simply too much government.

    Stick a no. 1 up against Sandra Coney. Got a responable amount of respect for her, based on what I've read of her writings, and my wife has had some direct dealings with her and reckons she's alright.

    Agreed, a real substantive character well suited to local politics.

    Apropos the discussion of whether party politics is/isn't or should/shouldn't be part of the local scene, it very much is in NSW and it's a major problem

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    Kyle, it used to be my heuristic to vote for anyone who mentioned cycling in their blurb. Unfortunately now, most of them do. Attitudes of Dunedin candiates to active transport issues here, which might sort out those who are serious a little better.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Hudson is in an interesting position - he makes over $100k a year from his various directorships of council companies - that arguably makes his candidacy illegal under the Local Authorities (Members' Interests) Act which limits candidates contracts with councils they are elected to to under $25k - there's been a lot of feverish emailing going around the past few days challenging his being on the ballot at all (or even on the council).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    Interesting, thanks, Paul. I wondered what the Vote out Hudson stickers were about.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    This is not about voting him out - the law says you can't run for council if you have a financial conflict of interest.

    I think there are "Vote XXX Out" stickers all over where XXX is just about any of the people who voted for the stadium, I don't think Hudson is special in that regard

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Smart article about how to vote tactically includes a practical list of what to look for in a candidate:


    * Are they on the side of the good and holy (i.e. do they agree with you on key issues)?
    * If they were on a council before, or had some other relevant role, did they find ways to present the issues usefully, and relate them to the decisions being made? Or do they have a very simplistic approach to the issues?
    * Did they build support for the issues or polarise people?
    * Did they give lip service to the issues but actually support contrary decisions?

    Hard working

    * Will they put the time and effort into the job? Look at whether they are promising to be a full time councillor, or expecting to also run a business or look after a family on their own.
    * If they’ve been on the council before, look at their meeting attendance record.
    * Did they bother to answer questionnaires and turn up to candidates meeting?


    * Have they been a councillor before? Were they considered effective in that role by their peers and informed commentators?
    * If they haven’t, do they have a background that means they will be able to analyse papers and express their views clearly and succinctly?
    * Are they going to be totally lost in the bureaucratic system, meeting procedures, etc? Can they be tactical and use the system effectively?
    * Can they work with other people, or are they really just loner protesters? Protesters should stay on the outside harassing the council rather than joining them.
    * If they are a mayoral candidate, can they pull together a disparate council, or will they be divisive?
    * If they are a councillor, are they likely to end up chairing a sub-committee?


    * Councillors don’t have electorate secretaries, research offices or any other support. Does the candidate have some sort of support base (friends and supporters, political party, etc)?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    As the old adage goes:

    Vote early, vote often.

    Postal ballots make this so much easier :p

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    National stole Canty democracy.

    Nick Smith brother is fined $50K.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I heard a (supposedly respected) local politician say exactly that at the Drinking Liberally candidate's meeting ... and he said it as if it wasn't a joke ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Why *do* we have elected DHBs? We don't elect a railway board, a police board, a library board, a school board (though they do in the USA, and did years ago in London). Why is healthcare different?

    It would make much more sense if DHBs had tax raising powers of their own. As it is, it just looks like a method for central government to shift the blame for underfunding healthcare.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I'm not even entirely sure what the DHB even does, nor what the major/minor issues that are currently on the table for it are, much less what the connection is between those issues and the candidates

    Change the company responsible who operate those centres where you go to have blood syringed out of you, as ordered by the doctor. This wee procedure is not insignificant, which is why a stonking big court case was fought during the all of 2008, and the first half of 2009.

    Pump money into primary health care as opposed to tertiary health care. Sink a small amount of money on targeting solo mums or Remuera homeowners. DHB's do stuff that you and I probably won't be cognisant of, but will be real to those who have health problems.

    Putting on Elected Rep hat.

    In terms of direct influence over my life, local body is actually quite powerful.

    Yes. Last night I allocated some $18k to various community groups in the Ward I represent. For all of these groups the money was needed, and goes a long way towards achieving their goal. So granting $1600 to the Morningside Kindergarten in Auckland will go some way towards assisting children. Unfortunately we did not have enough money for all groups, so some missed out.

    While $18k may seem small bikkies to some, I am aware for many groups in the ward the small amounts the Board grants to them represents the difference between surviving and not surviving. I'm only too happy to help, albeit in a small way.

    Overall we have allocated $51K to various community groups in the ward in the past three months (normally we would do this over a year, but as we are going out of existence, we were asked to allocate over the remaining period of the Board's existence.)

    Councils shape cities.

    That they do. The City Vision Council (2004-2007) budgeted $5m for a pool/sports complex in Glen Innes, something that had long been wanted by that community as a way of keeping youths off the streets and busy doing sports etc. Which is a good idea; after all, the devil finds work for idle hands.

    The new Bank's Cit'Rats Council deleted that budgeted item, spending $5m instead on re-sanding/rehabilitating Judges Bay. The youth of GI don't have a pool/sports complex to hang out in but the good folk (and they are good folk) of Judges Bay, they have a new 'beach'.

    So yes, different kinds of Councils shape the city.

    Blocs often vote regardless of the quality of argument from other perspectives,

    yes, it's astonishing how the C'n'R bloc vote en masse. Particularly when David Hay is in the room. And even more astonishing when faced with a suggestion from me that would have saved some of their bacon.

    whipping off said hat

    I've voted for those who expression concerns that matter to the way I'd like Auckland to be and especially if I've seen to them express them well for a while. I've no way of knowing whether they'll be able to do anything than raise their voice.

    A good strategy, given the huge uncertainty about how the new structure will pan out. I personally do not have any inkling about what power a Local Board will have, but on the other hand, every other person in this game, whether Local Board member, Councillor, or CCO technocrat doesn't either. Knowing that drives certain behaviours.

    Kyle, it used to be my heuristic to vote for anyone who mentioned cycling in their blurb. Unfortunately now, most of them do.

    Which is a good thing, I think. Replace cycling with another concept in your heuristic - something that is upcoming, like Transition Towns.

    And to finish, remember, post your vote! You are not restricted to finding a letter box. You can stick your ballot in the workplace mail stream or hand it over the counter at your local library.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Or hand carry them to your local returning officer - which must piss them off no end because our votes are counted in Chch - how scrutineering gets done if no one can get there I have no idea

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Same story for proposed public pools in Otahuhu and Avondale - and for beaches in Kohimarama, St Heliers, Point Chev and Herne Bay. Spot a pattern, anyone?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    OK, here's a question for the local politics nerds: If one is inclined to vote negatively on the STV portion of the ballot, is it better to rank every candidate, so the ones you _least__ like are positively placed last, or is it better to simply not put a number next to them at all?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Rich, re STV (we have it for mayor and wards here). Vote positively for the candidates you like (in order of preference). Do not rank [ie leave blank space beside] the ones you don't want elected because even a low rank might give them some clout in the complicated weighting system. You don't need to do the full quota. For example, in our ward we can vote for three but I will probably only vote for one person and give them the No 1 ranking.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Rich, if you need more than Hilary's excellent summary, read that link from my 6.21 post above about tactical voting.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    You were saying, Craig? :)

    Rich: You do realise Boag lost the party presidency over eight years back? I could work up a WhaleOily head of faux-indignation about the number of current Labour Party and union officials beavering away on so-called "independent" Len Brown's campaign, but I've got better things to do with my time. Get the fuck over it already...

    Meanwhile, it seems the Herald seems to be having a wee problem distinguishing between a letterhead and a pre-formatted e-mail signature (mine contains a Jane Austen quote, FWIW).

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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