If, like me, you live in Welllington city, you will have just received your voting papers. Now, call me dumb if you want to, but it is all a little confusing. We’ve got 4 different elections to vote in, of which 3 use the same method, and 1 uses a different method. That’s all do-able – although I’m not sure that everyone will remember to change from 1, 2, 3 to tick, tick, tick, and spoilt ballot papers are just sooo George Bush era that I don’t want to go there. What I am intrigued about though is the absolute lottery of selection. We don’t get junk mail in our letterbox, so I’ve had no individual fliers from candidates. I’ve got no idea what any of these people are really like. There are no suburban fences in the inner city, no front lawns with stakes and placards. My mind, therefore, as regards the election, is as pure as the driven snow on the roof of an Invercargill sports centre.
So: the Four Elections. Yes, I have heard of most of the candidates for Mayor – two being complete nonsensical muppets, and out of the four possibles, only two seem to be being taken seriously. Yes, I know Jack Yan has been very clever in starting Lucire up and running it for all these years, but really, a city is a bit more than a Fashion mag, and Wellington deserves the best possible experience and vision at the top. However, let’s put the Mayoral race to one side for a minute, and look at the other Elections running.
We’ve got a swathe of possibilities for Lambton Ward, a huge mass of possibilities for the District Health Board, and also a whole pile of candidates for the Greater Wellington Regional Council. I’m almost thinking of missing out or random ticking the votes for DHB and GWRC – my knowledge of them all is next to nothing, except for the tiny blurb that was printed in the booklet next to each person standing. Some of those blurbs are in bullet-point-speak, and for that, they get a bullet from me – no, not a tick, just an ‘ignore’ for their ignorance of proper sentence structure. Some of them are incumbents and familiar names – Judith Aitken for example, seems to be all over the place – and applying for two jobs at once. Sorry – two is too greedy – nothing for you. Make your mind up. But that leaves me with even less people than I knew of before. I can’t believe that the running of a massive part of the budget for one of the most important parts of our economy – the Health budget – is left up to a lottery and complete chance of which particular numpty might get in. If anyone thinks they know anyone who actually IS worth voting for in those elections, please post up your comments.
I am however slightly saddened by the list of possibles for Lambton Ward – not because they are bad, but because they are actually quite good. And we can vote in only three. There’s dear old Ian McKinnon, who once was a scary old headmaster to small boys, but seems to have morphed into a very nice man with genuine concern for constituents. But why isn’t he running for Mayor? His brother Don is in charge of half the world – surely Ian wants to at least run a small but perfectly formed capital? What’s up, Daddy Mac? There’s also Iona Pannett, who is swamped with green credentials, and wants a Light Rail system in Wellington almost as much as I do. Surely she’s a clear vote? But then we have newcomer Kris Price, who is the most knowledgeable about Light Rail of all, and might actually get something done about it, should he be elected. But he as been busy on some other project, and really needs to start doing some viral marketing if he wants to get elected. Price is also very pro good urban design – a passion close to the hearts and minds of the Fish, so he’s got to be a clear vote for as well. Then there is Michael Fowler, who we’ve all heard of, who seems to have been hiding under a rock for the last 25 years and now wants back in to play with the toys in the sandpit. He’s an architect – and a water-colourist, and a nice old fish, so how could I go past him?! But then again, he has already had a damn good thrash at the city, and was responsible for both destroying most of the old stuff, and making way for lots of the new stuff (most of which is not nearly as good as the old stuff). Also, he says in his blurb “Most of our lives have been lived in Thorndon” and I’ve only got one life, so I’m not sure what he means by that. Then we’ve got Marcus Ganley, who is keen on the Cuba Carnival – aren’t we all – so he gets a Fish vote as well. But he also works for Phil Goff, and we’re not sure that is such a good career move at present. We hear there are a couple of jobs going free at ACT at the mo, in case you’re interested Marcus…
On the down side, we have John Bishop, who supports building better roads – sorry, you just lost my vote there – and Stephanie Cook, who has been a Councillor for the last 15 years – time to move over and give someone else a go, Cookie. And finally Adam Cunningham (meh), and Mark Greening. Much as I like what Greening says, he’s a lawyer, and so gets no vote from me. Odd fish, lawyers. And he says he wants a waterfront for people, not buildings. Boring! I think the current waterfront proves that we only have the people where we do also have some buildings – we’ve been debating that for years.
Trying to pick the best three people from amongst that list is a bit of a daunting task. So instead, I’ll just refer you to the Wellingtonista site, where Jo has been quizzing the multitudes of candidates, and even had the temerity to cut off the current Mayor in mid-stream when she exceeded her 25 word answer. Harsh, but fair, but also: we’ll never know what her policies are.
So instead, I’ll segue to something completely different – how our voting wards came about. I’m not quite sure how I came across it, but the excellent resource of Papers Past popped up with this story, from the Evening Post, Rōrahi XXXVI, Putanga 23, 27 Hōngongoi 1888, Page 2, of which I’ve highlighted just a snippet from:
So, you see, as boring as this election campaign seems to be, the things those Councillors do does affect us, for years to come. Councillor Danks was right after all. Lambton Ward had cut pretty hard into Te Aro Ward. And yes, the value of property in Lambton Ward has indeed “increased enormously” since then. Decisions made in 1888 still resonate with us 122 years later. So, vote carefully. Vote for people who will look after our city.