Friday, September 23, 2022

Who to vote for in Palmerston North (2022)

My local body voting papers arrived earlier in the week, so its time for the usual post in which I try and work out who I'm voting for. Essential tools for this have been Vote Climate, which looks at climate and public transport policy;, which gives a more general overview, and FACT's roundup of media coverage of misinformation-linked candidates, which is an effective veto list (because I am not voting for rioters who want to spread disease and "make New Zealand ungovernable"). Policy-wise, I'm interested in climate change, public transport, and housing, and very uninterested in asset-stripping and under-investing in infrastructure (typically described as "keeping rates low") or in shit on the streets (so being opposed to Three Waters is a no-no). On top of that, I want a council which looks like Aotearoa, rather than a bunch of dead white males, so my general preference is to vote for women over men, young people over old ones, and anyone rather than a 65-year-old pakeha male called "John". Where does that leave me? Read on...


Not much choice here this time. I don't especially like the incumbent, and refused to preference him last time, but there are only four candidates. One of whom of which is a diagnosed delusional psychotic and convicted child-beater, and another of whom is an anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorist who participated in the parliament riot. Which leaves Hussein Kikihounga-Ngot as the default anti-incumbent candidate. Unfortunately, he rates terribly on climate change, and his Herald interview makes it clear that he opposes three waters. Smith meanwhile identifies climate as the top priority. Shit, I'm going to have to vote for him, and grit my teeth to give Ngot a second preference because at least he's not actually insane. If only the Greens would run someone for mayor again, so I could feel enthusiastic about a candidate...

City Council

The opposite problem from mayor - 33 candidates chasing 13 positions, which is almost too much choice. Fortunately its easy to winnow the field. And I have clear choices at the top of the ballot - two Green and two Labour candidates who endorse each other for top preferences (because they understand STV). My real question there is whether there's anyone I want to put between those groups, either a a strong candidate or a "fuck you" to a party which has betrayed us, and who I put after them. At the other end of the ballot, Sam Walmsley, James Candish, and Dion Jensen are all VFF anti-vaxers, as is Mel Butler (check her Facebook page) and Murray Wellington (check his blurb), so they're all off the list. Nathan Wilson and Bruno Petrenas are climate-change deniers (or were in 2019). Les Fugle is a property developer who ignores resource consent requirements and whose solution to his legal battles with the council is to try and get elected to it (so: inherently conflicted). Jacinta Fraser and William Wood are both in the real estate industry, so are also inherently conflicted (and Wood has other flaws). Zakk Rokkanno promises to Do His Own Research on everything, and thinks that "cancel culture" is the biggest issue facing Palmerston North (which is a screaming red flag if ever I saw one). And once I've eliminated the overlapping "Keep Rates Low" and "anti-three waters" groups, as well as the stealth-Nats, religious fundamentalists from freaky anti-vaxx churches, and former soldiers (which seems to correlate with some scary stuff), I'm left with a very short list: the Green and Labour candidates, Rachel Bowen, Manjit Chawla, Atif Rahim (who is pro-three wasters), and Rhia Taonui. If I feel a need to pad, I might give a pity preference to Orphee Mickalad, who is good other than his opposition to three waters, and to Patrick Handcock, who is good but a former police officer and ACAB.


Again not much choice here: five candidates for four positions. In previous years I've voted for Wiremu Te Awe Awe and Fiona Gordon as good environmental candidates, and I'll do so again. I've been reluctant to support Rachel Keedwell despite her environmental credentials because she was once an anti-fluoride campaigner, but regional councils no longer have any say over that, and she's been very clearly pro-vaccination, so I think I can vote for her. New candidate Bal Ghimire seems pretty inspiring. Former corrupt PN mayor and National MP Jono Naylor does not. Horizons still uses the archaic and unfair bloc vote system, and Naylor will be the one not getting my tick.

With the elimination of DHB's I don't need to waste time on that this year. I guess there's some benefit to centralisation after all.

Voting closes at noon on 8 October. They're using DX mail this year rather than NZ Post, so make sure you get the right box, or use the drop boxes at the council or mobile library. There's a map of drop-off points on the council website to help you find the nearest one.