2016 local government endorsements

UPDATED: 30/9 with Sustainable Waikato and a busload of Wellington groups!

It’s that time of the election season when various groups start putting out their naughty-or-nice lists of local government candidates. Because I’m the kind of nerd who likes this sort of thing, I figured it would be handy to at least get them all together in one place for people to refer to.

The list will be pinned to the top of the site and updated as regularly as new information allows. If you know of any other endorsement lists, let me know in the comments.

Candidates supporting Jobs That Count

These candidates have pledged to stand up for good jobs, strong communities and a clean environment.

Candidates supporting a Living Wage

The Living Wage Movement is calling on council candidates around the country to support a Living Wage for directly employed workers and for contracted workers delivering services on a regular and ongoing basis. 

Candidates supporting the environment

Generation Zero has put together comprehensive scorecards on a range of environmental issues and collated them on a nice little website.

Candidates supporting children

Tick for Kids is calling on all candidates nationwide to prioritise policies that will improve child wellbeing.

Candidates who love/hate your teeth

Fluoride Free NZ offers a massive spreadsheet of candidates’ responses on the question of fluoridating your drinking water.

Labour Party candidates

Green Party candidates

By far the most comprehensive list! Key campaigns are also being run in:

Auckland-specific

As part of their ongoing War for Auckland, The Spinoff have created an endorsement tool – click here!

Bike Auckland has a list of cycling-friendly candidates.

The Ratepayers Alliance (groan) endorses 25 candidates who pledge to keep average rates increases below 2%.

cersei eyeroll

Look, I said I’d link to rightwing endorsement lists, but I don’t have to be happy about it.

Wellington-specific

Wellingtonista’s local body survey is legendary. This year they’ve had just three responses – from Diane Calvert, Justin Lester and Troy Mihaka – based on a strategy of “we’re volunteers, we aren’t working ourselves to death to help you lot get good PR.” But they make for great reading, so check them out.

The Wellington branch of the Public Health Association have a scorecard for candidates running for Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Renters United surveyed and scored Wellington mayoral candidates on renting and homelessness.

Cycle Aware Wellington surveyed candidates for Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council on, obviously, cycling issue. The pro-Island Bay Cycleway group did their own rankings too.

NEW! Save the Basin Reserve surveyed mayoral candidates, city council candidates and regional council candidates on the greatest cricket ground in the world.

NEW! Living Streets Aotearoa surveyed Wellington City Council candidates about making Wellington a walking-friendly city.

NEW! The Architectural Centre surveyed mayoral candidates on urban planning, architecture and lunch.

NEW! Historic Places Wellington talked heritage buildings and Town Hall strengthening with mayoral candidates.

NEW! Student Friendly Wellington surveyed regional candidates on bus fares and city council candidates on rental warrants-of-fitness.

NEW! The Wellington Chamber of Commerce surveyed mayoral candidates and then uploaded the results as a PDF because they’re bastards.

daenerys fire

Western Bay of Plenty-specific: Closing the Gap

Closing the Gap surveyed all candidates running in the Western Bay of Plenty district as an example of how to get information about local government elections.

Taranaki

E tū and Living Wage Aotearoa have surveyed local body candidates in Taranaki. PDF here.

The Mighty Tron

Sustainable Waikato surveyed and endorsed candidates for Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council on, shockingly, sustainability issues.

Other online tools

Vote Local have produced an app which suggests voting preferences for folk in Auckland, Palmerston North and Wellington based on a range of questions.

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Let me know in the comments if there are any other good endorsement sets out there! Yes, that means the rightwing ones too – Family First’s central government scorecards are always good for telling you who’s worth voting for, if not in the way they intend.

The other war of the polls

The Dominion Post has been given access to two polls telling slightly different stories about the Wellington mayoral race:

Two polls conducted in the past week have revealed Wellington’s mayoral race to be a three-way dogfight between Justin Lester, Nick Leggett and Jo Coughlan – but both polls tell different tales of how the election may play out.

Methodology nerds, sharpen your pencils, I guess?

Lester’s poll targeted “likely voters” – people who voted in the past two elections and would likely do so again this year. The poll commissioned by Leggett’s team quizzed eligible voters.

Leggett’s poll was conducted by Curia, David Farrar’s outfit. I’d assume they deliberately left the net wide to deliver the result their client wanted – I’ve eyerolled at more than enough of the surveys they’ve done for Family First, with questions quite clearly worded to deliver the kinds of “sex is terrible, gay people are evil, bring back draconian morality laws” headlines Bob McCoskrie likes to put on his press releases.

Lester’s poll could be equally flawe. But the ultimate conclusion – that it’s all going to come down to second and third preferences – means things are running as intended. That’s what I like about a preferential voting system. You don’t always get your perfect choice for candidate, but the collective, together, get the choice that pleases the most people overall.

Phil Goff probably wouldn’t be looking so secure of the Auckland mayoralty if Aucklanders weren’t burdened with good old First Past the Post – and because I’m a democrat, I have to say I think that would be a good thing, even though with the current field it would probably mean the Right would triumph with their stable of terrible, incoherent candidates.

If there’s a weakness in the current lineup of Wellington likelies, it’s that the odds seem stacked against outsiders. Practically everyone running for mayor is either currently on council or has been. The front-runners are the current Deputy Mayor, who has a major party behind him; a sitting Councillor, who unofficially has an even bigger political party behind her; and the Mayor of a neighbouring city, with a warchest big enough to have his face plastered onto every available surface in the CBD (though apparently not enough to get humble hoardings out to the northern suburbs?)

I long for a Chlöe Swarbrick kind of run – and in Wellington she’d have a much better shot. Maybe in 2019 …

Voting papers get delivered shortly. If you want to support some local campaigns that could make a real difference, might I suggest signing up to Our Democracy at together.org.nz?

A change underway in local government?

Things feel pretty bleak on the left these days. It seems like the forces of short-sighted self-centered capitalism reign supreme, that darned mainstream media isn’t asking the questions we want them to (and only the questions we want them to), and those blasted voters just aren’t getting the message.

Besides, it’s a local government election year, and literally no one cares about local body politics. Right?

scrubs wrong

Wrong, apparently. The Spinoff, which is basically my main source of news and great TV reviews these days, didn’t just manage to raise $10,000 to do some honest-to-god active campaigning journalism focused on Auckland’s unitary plan, council elections and housing crisis. They raised it in 17 hours. As of typing up this post they’re sitting at over $23,000.

Turns out “the people” do know good media when they see it, and are willing to stump up the cash. I mean, who wouldn’t pay for regular video content of Shamubeel Eaqub calling bullshit on things?

It makes me feel hopeful. Not just that we’ll get solid, in-depth reporting on the future of Auckland for the next few months, but that this can set a tremendous precedent for political engagement and how our media operate – instead of having to rely on clickbait and churn to get those ad impressions up.

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There’s also a change happening in the capital, with the National Party all-but-outright endorsing a mayoral candidate in the Wellington race. National have always had proxy candidates in the capital – Nicola Young, even Nick Leggett if those much-denied only-Whaleoil-seems-to-have-heard-them rumours about his fundraising are true. In Auckland, the Citizens & Ratepayers group or whatever they’re called these days was always deep blue (and Labour and the Greens have taken the same approach in the big city with united brands like City Vision and Future West.) And it’s perfectly understandable for Bill English to say nice things about Jo Coughlan, given they’re in-laws.

But then you look at what English did say – not just “Jo’s a mate and I think she’d be a great mayor”, but quite baldly, “wouldn’t it be nice if you had the right kind of mayor, and then I could give you aaaaaaaaall this money”. You look at the fact that National have unsubtly asked their members for money for her campaign. You see John Key, a man painfully precise about how his image is used (even if we on the left think he makes terrible choices in that regard) posing for a friendly snap with Coughlan at the flash opening of the new David Jones department store:

This isn’t the usual “if you know Wellington politics you know who the Tories are and who the lefties are, even though everyone calls themselves an Independent” variety of partisanship. Though the field is more crowded by the day, and no cups of tea have been publicly consumed, the hopes of the Right to get a friendly mayor into Wellington are clearly pinned on Team Jo.

It may not be the smartest move. Wellington is a pretty solid Labour/Greens town. But it obviously irks the Parliamentary right to have the city council in their own back yard doing silly things like holding onto assets and not building ALL THE ROADS. They have to unite around someone if they’re going to defeat the incumbent mayor (Wade-Brown) and a well-resourced Labour ticket (Lester) on the preferences. So “go, Jo” it is.

What is going on with the local-government Right?

Something really, really weird is going on in the right, and I’m not talking about John Key, who has politically driven a political referendum process about our national identity for several years now and has suddenly decided to pretend otherwise because his polling isn’t looking nearly as good as he claims.

Nope, I’m talking about the upcoming local body elections in Auckland, where we now have three avowed right-of-centre mayoral candidates – four, if you want to make a cruel joke about Phil Goff, which the NBR certainly did.

Poor Mark Thomas was first out of the gate, only to be hamstrung by compatriot Cameron Brewer, who famously responded

“in the absence of a big name, good on Mark for being prepared to articulate the concerns and aspirations of the centre-right”

Victoria Crone seemed like the perfect choice for that “big name” – polished, professional, common-sense, good business background in an iconic Kiwi business (even if they did buy advertising on That Blog). Then she opened her mouth and everyone, even Josie Pagani, quickly realised she’s brilliant at vague aspirational mission-statements, and rubbish at actual policies.

And now – and I’m still not entirely sure this isn’t a hoax – John Palino, the man most famous for running with the Dirty Politics crowd who exposed Len Brown’s extramarital affair and horrifically exploited the woman involved, Bevan Chuang, has decided he wants to go again. But he also wants to make it clear he’s moved past that whole thing, and has proven it by hiring Simon Lusk as his campaign manager, getting Cameron Slater to organise his media contacts, having Carrick Graham at his campaign launch and raising the Len Brown story at literally the first opportunity.

Tim Murphy’s recap of Palino’s campaign launch is very good reading, albeit in a “too outlandish to be a Yes Minister script” way.

So that’s the National Party’s line up for the Auckland mayoralty. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

There’s no strategic benefit here. Auckland uses First Past the Post to elect its mayor, and with Phil Goff comfortably occupying the not-too-left-but-still-Labour-enough space, the right proper cannot afford to split its vote.

So what’s going on? Is this the National Party civil war, which we all assume is happening but has been judiciously kept under wraps, finally coming to light?

Or did no one actually think “let’s find a candidate we can all get behind”?

Or did they do that, then realise there were no good options – literally no one who combined talent, credibility, and charisma?

Have they all decided that it’s better to let Goff win than let any of their internal rivals near the levers of power? And we’re back to the National Party civil war theory.

Things seem a bit more sedate in Wellington, where so far we have two centre/left mayoral candidates in Celia Wade-Brown and Justin Lester – vote-splitting isn’t an issue because Wellington uses STV – and one rightwing candidate in Nicola Young, who’s been steadfastly playing the role of “reasonable, friendly Tory” – trying to hook up a deputy mayoral deal with Labour’s Paul Eagle and pulling weird stunts about the Kate Sheppard traffic lights.

But look at the bizarre antics in Auckland, and you might think (cross your fingers) that finally the right, up and down NZ, are getting sick and tired of pretending to get along for the sake of power and itsy-bitsy incremental rightward progress. Finally, they can be the ones having a messy power scrap in public.

The test is this: will the Wellington right unite behind Nicola Young’s nice-and-reasonable facade to try to knock down the big pool of Wade-Brown/Lester preferences? Or is someone else going to throw their hat in the ring? It’s STV, after all. It wouldn’t be splitting the vote. You might even argue it would help the right to get more profile.

There are rumours flying about this councillor or that business leader stepping up to the plate – there are always rumours. It’s Wellington, we get bored easily. But as someone who likes seeing a bit of a ruckus happening on the other side of the fence, I can only say: oh please, please let’s have our own Tory scrap.

The Epsom Paradox

After watching several of my Twitter buddies disbelievingly live-tweet the ridiculous proceedings around the Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan the other night, I had some thoughts. The good folks of Twitter liked them, so I decided to expand on them in a post. Here it is!

The angry-making thing about the Epsom Paradox is it’s not hypocrisy. It’s pure cynicism. It’s the logical end behaviour of an ideology which believes the rich and powerful are inherently more deserving, more equal, more important than those people who live in “welfare suburbs”. The belief is not, “deregulation is good”; it’s “deregulation is good when it’s good for me.”

So when I want to build a set of leaky apartment buildings, sell them to unsuspecting people and then pull out of the shell company that holds all the liability, deregulation should let me do that. The market, after all, will somehow find a way to correct for massive issues which only become apparent years after I’ve made my profits and retired to a tropical island.

But when my next-door neighbour wants to put up a couple of townhouses on the back of their section, blocking MY view and meaning other people might be able to see into MY yard, well, that’s a travesty! An infringement on my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness! Don’t you know some of those people might be not rich?

I don’t want any of this to be taken as arguments inherently for or against development or intensification. Those aren’t my areas of expertise, and I can only speak from personal anecdata. I live on the back half of a subdivided section; I think the builders did a tremendous job of balancing the space and outdoor areas and maintaining good privacy between the two houses. I’ve also seen rows of townhouses crammed onto every inch of flat space on a section, where comfort and any thought of an outdoor lifestyle was clearly sacrificed for maximising the cash to be made.

I’m a big government kind of girl. I don’t think government, central nor local, always gets things right, but I hold two things to be true: we need to be smarter about how we use land and design housing; and the best way to ensure we do that properly is to be strategic about it. You don’t get much strategy telling the property developers of the world “go for your life, and in 20 years when there aren’t any kauri left on private property in the Waitakere Ranges the market will shed a single perfect tear.”

And the Epsom Paradox shows that there isn’t a strategy at the heart of private property profiteers. They just want to make money off the people who have no power to say no, and protect their own idyllic patches. It’s selfish and short-sighted, and if you ever want one sentence that sums up everything wrong with our current government and many of our local body politicians, look no further.

The ultimate proof of their short-sightedness is this: because the boomerbabies made a great hue and cry over Auckland Council’s rezoning proposals, the Council has withdrawn their submission. So at the next round of hearings on the Unitary Plan, the Council has no argument to put forward – but other organisations like Housing NZ do, and their suggestions are a lot worse for the leafy suburb-dwellers.

Too bad for them.