The Wellington Mayoralty

October 2nd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

It probably won’t surprise anyone that I won’t be voting for to be re-elected Mayor. However it might not be for the reasons people assume – that she is a Green Party member. I have endorsed a number of Labour and Green party members for local government positions in the past.

I basically assess local body candidates on what I call the 3 Ps – policies, personality and political management.

Now when it comes to policies, of course there are not that many areas I agree with Wade-Brown. However the Mayor is just one vote of 15. So policies alone is not a sufficient reason to not vote for someone.

Personality isn’t a problem for me with Celia. She pleasant and engaging, and generally gets on well with people. She is no Bob Parker who managed to alienate huge swathes of people.

It is the third area, political management, where the Mayor hasn’t been successful. The Council under her leadership has been almost embarrassing at times as it flip-flops backwards and forwards on issues such as the Basin Reserve.

Dave Armstrong notes in the Dom Post:

Sadly, one of Ms Wade-Brown’s strengths – that she is largely a democratic consensus politician – is also one of her weaknesses. With an evenly divided council, there is a feeling, even amongst Wade-Brown’s supporters, that she hasn’t rammed through much of her own policy, so not a lot has been achieved. Worse, the outsourced and CCO (Council- controlled Organisations) tail seems to be wagging the council dog, with the mayor and council being kept in the dark.

Being unaware of the costs of your own office refurbishment and the fact that the Council had outsourced most of its works operations is almost unforgivable in terms of political competence.

But also, the failure to get much done through Council. You don’t achieve that by ramming things through (as you only get one vote). You achieve that by working with Councillors on win-wins. A Mayor should never turn up to a Council meeting unaware of how a vote will go. They need to be constantly talking to colleagues, building coalitions, and the like.

I don’t like Len Brown’s policies very much (and very much like some of John Palino’s ideas) but you have to credit Brown that he hasn’t lost too many votes at Auckland Council. His team have run a reasonably tight operation.

So that’s why I won’t vote for Celia – partly policies and partly political management. If she does get re-elected, then of course her policies will not change but I do hope she improves her political management.

There are five other candidates, and the Dom Post has their views on leadership here.

Karuna Muthu and Rob Goulden both have some good policies. They’re both fiscally conservative and pretty balanced on issues such as transport. But no-one thinks either can win. Karuna’s challenge is his lack of experience on Council and Rob’s is being able to persuade people that he has got over the battles of yesteryear from when he was last on Council.

Jack Yan has run a good campaign for the second time. Armstrong notes:

Mr Yan is a younger, impressively multilingual entrepreneur with the rare distinction of being both an ex- Alliance candidate and involved with the Miss Universe competition. 

I do have a suspicion of anyone who has been an Alliance candidate. Yan does have some good ideas and has done well in business. However I have reservations about whether he would be up to the political management needed to be Mayor. They are different skills.

is the person most likely to beat Celia. If this was an FPP election I’d vote for John. I’ll be happy if he becomes the Mayor. I’ve been on Radio with him a few times, and he’s a well grounded funny guy. He also has a very impressive record of achievement as a Councillor in bringing both sporting events and jobs to Wellington.

However his campaign hasn’t been the best and stuff such as the comments about a model, and objecting to voting booths at the university have caused reluctance with some people who want a change, but are unsure if he is a change for the future.

As I said, I’m hoping he’ll beat Celia. I think a Morrison mayoralty will stabilise the Council, and we won’t end up with a Council that is flip-flopping all over the place. I’ll be ranking Morrison No 2.

My No 1 vote will go to . I think Nicola has the policies, the personality and the political skills to be a good Mayor.  Having only launched her campaign mid-year, the odds are against her. But I constantly hear feedback from people saying that they badly want change, they have hesitations about John, and like what they have seen to date of Nicola.  I really admire her for staying true to her principles and not saying she’ll vote for a living wage, despite the baying from some on the left who see that issue as a litmus test for humanity (which says more about them). I’ve also had good feedback from various groups around Wellington such as Vic students who have said Nicola has engaged with them, listened to them and even adopted some policy suggestions.

So I’ll be voting Nicola Young 1, John Morrison 2. If you want change for Wellington the key thing is to make those two your top two choices. It doesn’t matter so much which is 1 and which is 2 – follow your own preferences. They key thing is to put the person you least want elected as No 6 or leave them unranked entirely.

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17 Responses to “The Wellington Mayoralty”

  1. Grendel (950 comments) says:

    ignoring policies, the fact that CWB is trying to claim she is not a green is the main reason to not vote for her. she is 100% a Green and by trying to hide this makes her look shifty, and wonder what else she is hiding.

    also the slogans on her billboards/bus shelters are peurile at best.

    i have to say the whole voting experience was depressing, i found it hard to get past 1 person to vote for and even then it was more a least worse candidate than a good candidate. all 4 things i voted for it was just pick the least worse trougher.

    and final point DPF, if you don’t want someone in, don’t rank them at all, any ranking other than don’t rank is a positive vote.

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  2. Liberty (233 comments) says:

    The question that no one will answer is. Which mayor is going to get rid of the goat track to the air port?

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  3. RightNow (6,646 comments) says:

    Whichever candidate it is that has billboards around town with “Wellington is a dying city” in big lettering, they wasted their money. I don’t know any Wellingtonians that were impressed when Key said it, and I certainly won’t vote for someone who makes it the tagline of their campaign.

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  4. anonymouse (694 comments) says:

    Yan does have some good ideas

    He also has some right starkers bonkers ideas too, like moving the Airport to the Kapiti coast, hmm, yeah I really want to trade a short 10 minute off peak taxi ride home, with a long slog on the train .

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1309/S00027/airport-two-stage-plan-with-paraparaumu-long-term.htm

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  5. Michael (894 comments) says:

    With the STV system in Wellington, you don’t need to rank all the candidates. If you don’t like a candidate, don’t rank them. Otherwise the votes will get redistributed to them.

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  6. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    A cyclist who looked a bit like Incompetent Wade-Fuckwit once tried to give me a serve for driving past her on Victoria Street “pretty close”…

    (Actually it was a good 2-3 metres clearance, but the old Umph has a 2.25″ straight pipe and the noise reverberates between the glass walls of the golden mile quite pleasingly :-) Sets off flash car alarms, puts smiles on the faces of small boys, and frightens pedal pusher pillocks apparently.)

    This after she’d run 2 red lights because the road rules don’t apply to cyclists, just everyone else.

    I don’t know if this woman was Incompetent Wade-Fuckwit, or merely looked like her. Either way, won’t be voting…

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  7. hane (63 comments) says:

    Good news for Wellington that even professional righties can’t bear to put Morrison at the top of their list.

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  8. janet (3 comments) says:

    trying to find out who is pro-fluoridisation v anti on the Council and DHB took some investigating but I think I managed to ferret them out.

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  9. peterwn (3,144 comments) says:

    Two people I spoke to did not understand STV (one of them should have known better). They both thought that voting Nicola would diminish John’s chances and he thought Nicola should not have stood.

    A problem with STV is it is easy to end up with an informal (ie not counted) vote. With CCDHB there are 23 candidates after 7 positions. You either have to to sequence them 1-23 or sequence a smaller number. If you miss a number or double up a number, your vote is informal. I do not know the actual rules, but if you sequenced (say) 1 2 3 4 6 7 or 1 2 3 4 5 5 6 7, I would hope the vote is valid up to the point of error ie 1 2 3 4.

    I fully agree with Michael after thinking about it – do not rank the candidates you do not want, this also reduces the risk of error especially with CCDHB. So with CCDHB for example the best thing to do is to pick the candidates you can tolerate then rank them to your preference.

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  10. straya (61 comments) says:

    “A problem with STV is it is easy to end up with an informal (ie not counted) vote.”

    Frankly, if you can’t number (say) 1 to 7 consecutively without missing a number or doubling up, you’re probably too fucking stupid to deserve your vote to count.

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  11. Daigotsu (450 comments) says:

    Why is outsourcing council work such a negative? Seems like good business practice to me. Private industry is more efficient.

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  12. mandk (817 comments) says:

    Please – anyone but Wade Brown! She’s got no achievements, she’s completely out of her depth, and (as grendel pointed out) she’s dishonest in calling herself an independent when she’s clearly a green.

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  13. Steve Todd (13 comments) says:

    In response to Grendel, Michael and peterwn, we need to keep in mind that, when voting in STV elections, no matter how we cast our single votes, someone is going to win, so we all might as well have our fullest possible say in who that winner (or winners) will be.

    Under STV, lower preferences cannot possibly harm (or help, for that matter) higher preferences. A vote is never transferred (in whole or [in multi-seat elections] in part) until the candidate it currently points to is either elected, or eliminated from the count. Therefore, there is no downside to rank-ordering as many candidates as we are able. Indeed, if we rank-order, say, only two candidates, we run the risk that our vote will be ineffective in helping to elect someone.

    While it is true that a lower preference for a candidate is a positive *choice* (not vote) for that candidate, that is not the point. When a candidate is excluded from the count, the counting of votes continues as if that candidate had never stood in the first place. Each iteration of the count (in both single-seat and multi-seat elections) is, in effect, a new election.

    Therefore, when we rank-order the candidates, we are, in effect, saying to the electoral officer, if my first-preference candidate should be eliminated during the count (in effect, is no longer available), I want my vote to be transferred to my first *contingency choice* candidate, being my second preference candidate. Should *that* candidate be eliminated (become no longer available), I want my vote to be transferred to my second contingency choice candidate, being my third preference candidate. And so on.

    That way, should the worst come to the worst, and our most-preferred candidates are defeated (in which case there is nothing more we can do for them), we at least do our bit, individually, to limit the damage as much as possible, by helping to elect the candidate(s) who represent(s) the “lesser evil(s)”.

    Finally, if a voter makes a mistake when numbering the candidates, the vote is still valid up to the point where the mistake is made. (This assumes, of course, that an unambiguous first preference has been expressed for one of the candidates.)

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  14. Steve Todd (13 comments) says:

    A further response to peterwn. One of the many beautiful things about STV is that our single votes do not split support for candidates of the same or similar political colour.

    Nicola Young’s candidacy in no way diminishes John Morrison’s chances in the Wellington mayoralty election, nor vice versa. Eventually, although it doesn’t always happen – witness the 2007 election, where Kerry Prendergast ended up so far ahead of her two nearest rivals, that the exclusion of one of them, and the further transfer of votes, was not necessary – this contest will come down to two remaining candidates.

    Theoretically (although it won’t happen), those two remaining candidates could well be both Young and Morrison. More likely, the two last remaining candidates will be Wade-Brown and either Morrison or Young. Should it be Morrison, that will be because more Right-leaning voters preferred him (both upfront, by giving him their first preference, and by vote transfers from excluded candidates) to Young. Again, vice versa.

    The point is, the voters on the Right *will* have a candidate they prefer to Wade-Brown, in there at the end. That candidate will benefit from votes transferred to him or her upon the exclusion of the other. Whether that candidate then ends up with sufficient votes to defeat Wade-Brown is quite another matter – ultimately depending both on the extent of voter participation (on both the Left and the Right) and, equally importantly, on voter *cohesion*.

    In that latter regard, if Right-leaning voters vote in significant numbers for Morrison/Wade-Brown/Young, or for Young/Wade-Brown/Morrison, instead of for Morrison/Young/Wade-Brown, or for Young/Morrison/Wade-Brown, then they have only themselves to blame if Wade-Brown is re-elected.

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  15. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    I don’t usually do this, but people interested in making sure their vote in an STV election is as effective as possible can read this post I wrote on the subject:

    http://publicaddress.net/legalbeagle/council-elections-stv-qa/

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  16. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    If you miss a number or double up a number, your vote is informal. … I would hope the vote is valid up to the point of error ie 1 2 3 4.

    It is. Your vote is valid up to the point where the returning officer can’t be sure what you intended. If you rank four people 1, 2, 3, 4 and then rank two people with a 5, or no-one with a 5 and start again from 6, your first four preferences will count.

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  17. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    With the STV system in Wellington, you don’t need to rank all the candidates. If you don’t like a candidate, don’t rank them. Otherwise the votes will get redistributed to them.

    You don’t need to rank everyone but it can be a good idea. If you really really despise Celia Wade-Brown, or John Morrison, and your main aim is to ensure they aren’t elected, then ranking all of their opponents is your best strategy.

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