And you can help.
I’ve been trawling through the local body election candidate lists for my area. I live out West, which means I get to vote in the following contests: Waitakere Ward, Henderson-Massey Local Board, Waitakere Licensing Trust Ward 1, Waitemata DHB, and of course the Auckland Mayoralty.
I don’t propose this to be an “endorse the candidates” type post, because, even if I did follow local body politics closely, I would never presume to tell my readers who they should vote for*.
I got a lot of my candidate information from the Elections2010 site. You don’t think I have time in my lunch-hour to Google each and every person, do you?
So there are nine candidates and I get to vote for two of them. Make that seven, once the two C&R candidates Marie Hasler and Mark Brickell are taken out (I’m sorry, they may be good people, but I just can’t).
Bill Daly sounds like a crank (binding referenda, reforming our monetary system, 4 day working week – so run for parliament if you want to change the world, Bill).
Vanessa Neeson may be a lovely person, but I’m going to judge her harshly by the company she keeps. Her husband Brian Neeson is a former National MP and current member of the Human Rights Review Tribunal. Unfortunately his parliamentary record on human rights legislation is not a pretty one. Sorry, Vanessa.
Sandra Coney is well-known for her media work, but also has ARC experience. But I don’t know what she’s been like in the ARC. The righties hate her though, so that can only mean good things, eh?
I don’t know her ARC colleague Paul Walbran, though the official elections website has a screed of stuff on what he’s done and what he stands for. It all sounds very sensible. He’s served as an ARC councillor for years, too. Is that a good or bad thing?
Penny Hulse is the deputy mayor of Waitakere, but beyond that I don’t know much about her. It might be good to have someone close to the current Waitakere leadership on the new Supercity council, but is that enough of a good reason to vote for her?
Peter Chan is a current Waitakere City councillor, but I don’t know anything else about him.
Sailauama Cheryl Talamaivao looks to be someone actively involved in community organisations, but again, I don’t know anything about her.
Henderson-Massey Local Board
So many people, and I hardly know any of them.
One notable is former Labour Party president Mike Williams. However, since the Winston Peters-Owen Glenn mess of the last government, I’ve regarded his judgement as suspect.
And check out his photo on the Elections 2010 website: Is that an actual police mugshot?
Then there’s that Ross Dallow fellow, whom I certainly won’t be voting for.
Being out West, there are the obligatory Corbans and Nobilos, both aged looking chaps. Pillars of the community, no doubt.
None of the other candidates stand out to me.
I’m supposed to pick eight of these people, but that could be a challenge.
I have to vote for seven people, but there is a list of 33 candidates. Some of them are easy “no's” like Christine Rankin, Graeme Hunt (that would be like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse), Brian Neeson, and Andrew Williams, but don’t ask me who I’m going to vote for here.
Waitakere Licensing Trust
Well this is a slightly easier job, since there are only five candidates. One is the aforementioned Ross Dallow, leaving me to choose two from four. Mike Williams is one, and two of the others are also standing for Ward or Board positions also. Bob Stanic is a former deputy mayor of Waitakere City and has served in various community organisations for decades.
There’s no point in regurgitating details of the main contenders: Banks, Williams, and Brown. Even the “second tier” candidates (Colin Craig, Simon Prast) have had a good deal of publicity.
There is a whole bunch of “no-names” on the list – generally concerned busybodies who probably mean well but are wasting their time, because they won’t get any airtime unless they do something memorable (e.g. get into a brawl with one of the main candidates, run naked down Queen Street, etc).
For me the decision is easy – anyone but Banks, meaning Brown. Even if Brown doesn't set my world alight.
A few of the candidates have “interesting” profiles. Take Annalucia Vermunt:
Annalucia Vermunt, Communist League, 42, meat worker − an active union member and campaigner for Maori rights. The capitalist economic crisis is devastating the lives of working people. We need to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers. My campaign supports workers organising trade unions to combat attacks by the employers and government. I oppose cutting council services and facilities and imposing user charges. My campaign calls for a government−funded public works programme to create jobs and provide the housing, schools, hospitals, public transport and other services we need. I call for the immediate withdrawal of NZ troops from Afghanistan. I oppose NZ government bullying of Pacific nations like Fiji. My campaign champions struggles against racism and for the rights of women, Maori, and immigrants... Read the Militant at www.themilitant.comDown with the capitalists! I’m sure some people still believe all this discredited communist stuff, so she may get a few dozen votes. But given her interest seems to be more New Zealand’s role overseas, I think she might be running for the wrong job.
Then there’s the obligatory anti-abortion guy (for mayor? How exactly would you use your mayoral powers to prevent abortions?), an architect who has so many schemes and plans that it looks as if every ratepayer would have their own personal monorail, and the excitable activist.
What the contest truly lacks is a loon candidate. We desperately need a Monster Raving Loony Party in New Zealand.
If you know anything about any of the candidates standing (no, don't tell me about John Banks - I know who he is), let me know.
* I will inevitably break this promise at some stage in the future by saying “you’d be an idiot to vote for X” or something similar. But if you find me saying “give your vote to Y” or similar, please feel free to berate me. I may lean towards certain candidates, and I may even announce my own voting preferences, but please don’t take them as an endorsement. Heck, I don’t know anything about local body politics. You’d have to be certifiable to take my advice.