Monday, September 20, 2004

Local bodies

Since everyone else is posting about local body elections, I thought I'd throw my oar in. Unfortunately, I live in a boring place: Palmerston North. Our mayor is most famous for loaning his car to the Mongrel Mob and for a past appearance on "Fair Go" over dodgy fertiliser. Our city council are the usual bunch of petty-minded small businessmen, trying to use the city council to cut their rates while boosting the value of their property investments. And then there's the pervasive feelings of small-town inadequacy which drives them to pursue ludicrous schemes to "put Palmerston on the map"... schemes like selling the council building at a loss so it can be turned into a casino (fortunately this fell through), building a recreational lake (because nobody else has one of those), or trying to wheedle the government into giving them Ohakea to use as a "regional transport hub". This doesn't exactly convince me of their sanity...

We'll start with who not to vote for. The resident's association has been running ads against mayor Mark Bell-Booth and his "team" of Gordon Cruden, Jim Jeffries, Jono Naylor, John Hornblow, Vaughan Dennison, David Ireland, Alison Wall, and Anne Podd. These are the people who voted for the council/IRD building fiasco, to cut down all the trees in the Square, and to rezone one of the city's parks and sell it to The Warehouse. They all need to go. As for positive recommendations, read on. Note that Palmerston North still uses FPP for local body elections, so I'm simply recommending boxes to tick rather than preference lists.


Heather Tanguay all the way. She's left-leaning, has opposed the above projects, and has stood up for council services (especially pensioner housing). Of the others, Mark Bell-Booth is on the "forbidden list", Michael Feyen seems to have stolen his election material from United Future (full of "common sense"), Arshad Chatha has been arrested on fraud charges and is consequently telling people not to vote for him, and Michael Freeman is a joke candidate. Marilyn Craig will be dealt with below.

(Tanguay is the current frontrunner according to a recent poll, but that could change).

Ashhurst ward (1)

The incumbent, Marilyn Craig, has also come in for criticism from the resident's association, but a far better reason for not voting for her is that she runs a sweatshop - sorry, "human resources management company" - which provides casual outsourced labour to the local call-centres under fairly exploitative conditions. I don't think I want someone like that on the council, let alone as mayor. Of the other candidates, Lance Craig is her son, so is probably tarred by association - which leaves Tawhiri Te Awe Awe as the last man standing.

Awapuni ward (3)

No strong opinions either way here, though both incumbents (Peter Claridge and Pat Kelly) have avoided inclusion on the shitlist. Adrian Broad and Jenny Edwards are also good possibilities, being from Labour and the AUS respectively.

Fitzherbet ward (1)

Donald Kerr, the local Forest & Bird chairperson, is the obvious choice - he's an environmentalist with a good grasp of the RMA and strong ties to Massey and UCOL.

Hokowhitu ward (3)

All three sitting councillors are on the shitlist, so it's simply a matter of picking three from Julie Catchpole, Don Esslemont, Jonathan Godfrey and Chris Teo-Sherrell. I think the latter two are the best picks - Godfrey has an amusing wesbite setting out his views, and Teo-Sherrell seems to be a good left / green candidate. Neither supports the Square redevelopment.

Papaioea ward (4)

Phil Etheridge is an environmentalist candidate, Evan Nattrass is explicitly backing Tanguay for mayor, and (of course) Tanguay herself is standing in case she fails to gain the top job.

Takaro ward (3)

Again, no strong opinions here, other than not voting for either Vaughan Dennison, David Ireland, or Alison Wall.

Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council (3)

Matthew Hodgetts looks good - another environmentalist, interested in democracy and sustainability. The fact that he's under 50 also helps. The other three candidates are all incumbents, and all focusing on flood protection. Roni Fitzmaurice might be worth voting for; as for the other two, flip a coin.

Midcentral DHB (7)

This is done by STV, but there's a large number of candidates none of whom seem to leap out. My advice is to give high rankings to those from the medical profession or associated health industries, and avoid anyone who looks like a bean-counter.