The local elections for 2016 are upon us. Up for election are Mayor, Councillors, Community Board members District Health Board members and Environment Canterbury councillors. In this post, I am going to outline who I think should be elected in my district (Waimakariri, north of Christchurch. I will be using the candidate profiles provided to every elector in addition to random knowledge about the candidates that I happen to have.
This time around, we have two options: incumbent David Ayers and Natalie Leary. Ayers focused in particular on the completion of many post-earthquake infrastructure projects during his time as Mayor. He failed to identify areas for improvement that he would aim to address should he secure another term.
Leary does not have the same amount of political experience as Ayers. However she has recognised areas where improvements can be made, such as reducing commuting time, clean waterways and financial transparency. It’s not exactly clear what steps Leary has in mind to achieve these objectives.
It’s a choice between uninspiring political experience and a honest recognition of where we can improve. I expect that Ayers will be re-elected, however, I shall be giving my vote to Natalie Leary.
I get to vote for 4 candidates in the Rangiora-Ashley Ward. Most of the profiles are full of trivialities about the candidates personal life. This is a FPP style election, the 4 with the most votes get elected to council. FPP is a terrible system, but the fact that there are multiple seats means that there won’t be as many wasted votes. I will be giving my votes to the following candidates:
Chris Gunn: A strong advocate for public transport, including the introduction of commuter trains between Rangiora and Christchurch.
Peter Allen: His profile statement is quite vague, but he recognises the need to face issues surrounding water quality and transportation.
Linda Stewart: She has a wealth of experience from serving as Chair of the Coastal-Burwood Community Board during the earthquake recovery. There also wasn’t any pointless information in her profile.
Kirstyn Barnett: Also has past local government experience believes in transparency and is pragmatic enough to recognise rates rises may be necessary, but should be minimised (I don’t pay rates, so I’m don’t really care*). Plus she’s a volunteer at Cat Care!
Now there are some candidates who clearly should not serve as councillors. Paul Williams seems to think that because his ancestors served on the council that he should get to as well. That his only policy initiative is “eliminate wasteful council expenditure” demonstrates a lack of understanding of local issues.
National Party stalwart Dan Gordon is also running for council. Given that he hasn’t risen above the level of councillor, he may be regarded as an ineffective career politician. He failed to correctly declare a donation to Jim Gerard’s Mayoralty campaign in 2007. Unfortunately, he got away with it (see last page of this submission) and is now relying on voter amnesia to get back in. I haven’t forgotten and I won’t be voting for him.
The rest of the candidates aren’t that interesting and don’t warrant further consideration.
The Community Board is essentially a less powerful council that represents a subset of the district. I get to vote for 5 candidates in another FPP type election in the Rangiora sub-division. There’s even less policy in the candidate profiles, but at least they promise to listen to you! I will be voting for the following candidates:
Peter Allen: Same reasons as for voting for him in the council.
Sarah Lewis: She expressed interest in further developing cycling and walking tracks within Rangiora, which is a great idea to encourage people to get outside and explore the local area.
Murray Clarke, Keith Galloway and Judith Hoult: All of the following are incumbent Community Board members with an understanding of local government processes. Also partly a tactical vote to keep Jim Gerard out.
Now who shouldn’t you vote for: as previously implied I won’t be voting for Jim Gerard. Like Dan Gordon, he has connections to the National Party (he was the MP for Rangiora from 1984 to 1997). He was a beneficiary of Gordon’s false declaration. More disturbingly, his parliamentary voting record is appalling, highlights including voting against Homosexual Law Reform (1986) and Abolition of the Death Penalty (1989).
The remaining candidates weren’t able to capture my interest and aren’t discussed here.
Canterbury District Health Board
Hooray, STV voting! I can’t remember how it works just right now, but it’s more proportional than FPP. Therefore it’s better. 7 positions are available and contested by 22 candidates. As a general rule, I will tend to vote for individuals with some form of medical expertise and ignore “professional manager” types.
The lying bastards known as Fluoride Free NZ have published a list of local-body candidates who responded to their questions surrounding fluoridation. While I would prefer government funded universal dental care and regulation of the composition of foodstuffs, fluoridation represents a stop-gap solution during these tough neo-liberal times. Strong anti-fluoridation beliefs can also be a useful indication of wider crackpottery, thus helping me decide who not to vote for. The Spinoff also has a more comprehensive quack list.
I plan to vote for the following:
Rochelle Phipps: Has worked as a GP and has experience as a medical practitioner. Just the sort of person who should have a strong voice in an organisation responsible for delivering medical services
David Morrell: A former hospital chaplain and an incumbent member of the DHB. Not afraid to voice pro-fluoride sentiments in the face of the hostile opposition.
Jo Kane: Another incumbent with a good vision outlined in her profile statement.
Jono Bannan: Has experience in psychological and counselling services. Will bring a much needed mental health perspective to the board. Too frightened to take a stance on fluoride, wants a referendum (which the anti-fluoridationists would likely win).
Gilbert Taurua: I’m generally sceptical of candidates with extensive executive/directorship/managerial backgrounds. Still perhaps having one or two on the board will help with “synergy” and “dynamism”. Let’s go with Gilbert!
Drucilla Kingi-Patterson: I was weighing up between her and Janet de Lu. Kingi-Patterson wants to lobby the government for more CDHB funding given that the Tories have failed to increase it in line with the population increase. On the other hand, de Lu wants to get the best out of the current level of funding. I know which approach I prefer.
Aaron Keown: He managed to lose his council seat at the last election due to his sycophancy towards train wreck CEO Tony Marryatt and general nastiness. Was also an ACT party candidate in 2008. He must have had a change of heart since he now proudly trumpets free car parking at the hospital! That I’m placing him 7th is an indication of the poor quality of many of the other candidates. STV is hard!
Being STV, I can also rank the remaining 15 candidates. I’ve put the “management cultists” (those with no medical training, but management experience) immediately below my top 7 and put the lunatics in the last places, with Richard Roe getting ranked last.
Yes, we get to vote for ECan councillors again after the National Government replaced the councillors with flunkeys since dairy farmers were unhappy that ECan was getting in the way of making money (and trashing the water supply). The Tories get to pick 6 commissioners and we get to vote for 7 councillors. North Canterbury is represented by 1 councillor and the two choices are dreadful. Both are essentially mouthpieces for farming interests at the expense of all other citizens. Neither candidate mentions anything about public transport or water quality in their profiles (two things that ECan is responsible for). Their responses to Generation Zero were either inadequate or absent. I cannot in good conscience vote for either of them. Let’s hope that Christchurch residents vote in the better candidates who are standing in their area.
In summary, I have endorsed candidates who are supportive of public transport and water quality initiatives. Those who are familiar with the medical system have been endorsed for positions on the DHB. I am disappointed that there is no real choice for ECan councillor, the restoration of democracy to ECan should be an imperative and it is a disgrace that the government even removed democracy in the first place. Voting closes at 12 pm, October 8 2016, don’t miss out on electing capable people to your council and keeping the undesirables out.
*This is an issue that gets the local right-wingers frothing. It comes as no surprise that they fantasize about returning to a time when only landowners could vote.