A lot of people have asked me about voting for the Wellington Mayoralty and how best to vote to get the Mayor they want. As Wellington uses STV this is an important question as beyond doubt the election will be decided on second, third, fourth preferences etc.
Now the technically correct answer is to rank the eight candidates in order from 1 to 8 based on who you think is best to worst. That is what I will do as I have managed to form opinions on all eight candidates.
But you don’t have to rank all eight, and in many cases it is unnecessary. What is important is the rankings between the candidates who can win. So if you aren’t sure whether to say rank Johnny Overton higher or Keith Johnson higher, then don’t worry – you don’t need to (even though you can).
Looking at the eight candidates, two are not currently even on (a) Council – Overton and Johnson. They have no realistic chance of winning, so you don’t need to really worry about ranking them. Because it is almost impossible they will be one of the last two candidates remaining when all preferences are allocated.
The same tends to go for Helene Ritchie and Andy Foster. They’ve both been on Council since the 1970s and 1990s respectively and I can’t see any scenario where they could win, or be one of the last two or even three. You can rank them if you want, if you especially support or oppose them, but it almost certainly won’t matter.
My view is that the election preferences will come down to a choice between Justin Lester and one of Nick Leggett, Jo Coughlan and Nicola Young.
Now if you back Justin Lester, then just rank him number one. To some degree your other preferences aren’t that important. He is very likely to be one of the final two, so his preferences will not get redelegated.
Now if you don’t back Justin Lester, what do you do?
What is important is that you rank Leggett, Coughlan and Young with your top three preferences, above him – the safest option is to rank them 1, 2, 3 or 2, 3, 1 or 3, 1, 2 – assign those three your top three ranks. One of them will go into the final preference round against Lester. You don’t need to rank Lester or any of the other candidates. You can if you want to, but what is important is those three candidates are ranked higher than Lester and given your top three rankings (if you do not want Lester to win). It means that as two of them get eliminated their support consolidates behind the remaining candidate.
As for who between those three you should make 1st, 2nd and 3rd – well that is up to you. They all have some good strengths and I’d be happy with any of them as Mayor. Rank the one you think is best 1, second best 2 and third best 3. But if you do not want a Labour Party controlled Mayor, the important thing is they get your top three rankings.
Now if you want Lester that is fine, and as I say it is easy – make him 1. I won’t be ranking him in my top three because he is a party controlled candidate. If he was an independent I’d be far more likely to give him a higher rating. I have no problems with Justin Lester personally and in fact have appreciated some things he has done such as calling me to discuss issues around e-voting when the Council was about to vote on it.
But by standing as a Labour candidate he is bound by the party rules to vote in accordance with the local Labour caucus. That means if Labour gets two Councillors as well as the Mayor, a Labour Mayor is constitutionally obliged to vote as his two colleagues instruct him. He can’t vote based on what he genuinely thinks is best for Wellington. I don’t support party tickets for Council where Councillors are bound to vote in accordance with their private caucuses. Fine to have a ticket with some core policies you agree on, but I want Councillors and a Mayor who are free agents.
Anyway regardless of who you support, make sure you return your ballot papers and vote. Who get elected does matter. Different Mayors and Councillors will mean different decisions on how much your rates increases, and what they are spent on.