Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who to vote for in Palmerston North

Its local body election time, which means I have to work out who to vote for. Fortunately, this time it looks like there are candidates who actually deserve support.

First, some background. Last election, we had wards and the undemocratic block-vote, pretty much the worst voting system in the world. Last year, the council decided to switch to STV, a far more representative system. Unfortunately a bunch of them also decided it was time to do away with wards and move to at-large election - a system which would increase the decision-space to unmanageable levels, favour incumbents, and lead to "representation" which all lived on the same block of Victoria Avenue. They changed their minds, but the Local Government Commission imposed it on us on appeal. So, every councillor who supported that switch originally is on my shitlist, and goes unranked by default.

Which makes the Mayoral vote something of a no-brainer. The incumbent, Jono Naylor, is a crook who used trusts to launder his donations in 2007, only revealing that fact after he'd paid off his major backer with a zoning change. The fact that he was also the prime mover behind at-large election is just icing on the cake - this prick will not get my vote. His major competitor, Lew Findlay, initially supported at-large election, but changed his mind, so can be forgiven. But the third option, Duncan McCann, opposed it, and is pushing for the city to stop pumping its shit into the Manawatu River, so I think he's getting the top ranking. I'll skip the also-rans, except to note that Ross Barber is currently before the courts for the fourth time on a charge of child-beating. Sadly, I can't anti-vote for people.

For council, the preference against at-large election supporters narrows the choice a lot. Fortunately there's plenty remaining. Phil Etheridge, Lorna Johnson, Duncan McCann, and Chris Teo-Sherrell are all good environmental candidates. Dion Martin is a union organiser. Elizabeth Paine look like they might be worth a low ranking. Of the remaining incumbents, Jan Barnett, Billy Meehan, Annette Nixon and Tangi Utikere voted the right way on wards. As usual, I'm consciously avoiding anyone who promises to keep rates down (because that means cuts to council services). I will also leave former National candidate Leonie Hapeta unranked.

DHB is a waste of time because those elected don't control their budget, and have to work for central government, not for us. As usual I'll rank about five or six people (usually doctors) and screw the rest.

Finally, there's the real battle: Horizons. This is all about the river, and as with last election, we have a pile of clean-water candidates. Unfortunately they also still use the block-vote, so I'll onyl get to pick four of them. Greg Carlyon is their former regulatory manager, who resigned over council foot-dragging over cleaning up the river, and he'll definitely be one of my picks. Richard Forgie, Rachel Keedwell and Wiremu Te Awe Awe are all other clean-water candidates, while Glenis Mobberley and Dave Stewart also look to have strong environmental credentials. Joseph Poff and Chris Tocker are farmers; do not vote for them under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, while I'm making this choice about who best will clean up my river, the people of Canterbury are still denied theirs. And that is simply wrong.

Update (01/10/13): Further information and links to Environment manawatu and Generation Zero's assessment of candidates here.