At large Councillors may be gone

Bernard Orsman reports:

The Government has dropped a controversial plan to have councillors elected at large on the Auckland Super City.

This follows widespread opposition to the proposal for eight at-large councillors and 12 ward councillors on the Super .

The Royal Commission actually proposed 10 at-large Councillors and only 10 ward councillors. The at large proposal is well motivated. The idea was that these Councillors would put the region ahead of their ward.

But I have blogged consistently against the at large since the Commission proposed them, and am glad they have been dropped. I don’t think you would have got sensible voting if Aucklanders were having to choose 8 or 10 at large Councillors for a possible pool of 40 to 50.

It is understood the Government is considering a halfway house with six urban wards, each with three councillors elected within the ward at large. There would also be two rural wards for Franklin and Rodney with one councillor each.

My preference would be for the wards to elect one Councillor each. This keeps the wards small, and increases the chance that you will know something about the Councillors you vote for, rather than just go off name recognition.

In fact ideally I would have the wards mirror the parliamentary districts.

Brian Rudman agrees with me that smaller wards is preferable to six multi-member wards. That’s almost enough to make me reconsider my position 🙂

Rudman proposes be used to stop winner takes all in the wards. Now initially I think it is appropriate the elections be FPP as that is what almost all the fomer Auckland Councils used. The Local Electoral Act makes it a decision for local voters via referendum if they wish to move from FPP to STV or vice-versa.

My experience of STV in local body elections is that I think it works well for single vacancies. In other words it is good for voting for the Mayor as you usually know enough about the Mayoral candidates to sensibly rank them.

For multi-member vacancies like DHBs, it is a nightmare. Ranking 32 people in order is near impossible to do sensibly. If Auckland goes with single member wards, STV would work well. With multi-member wards, my concern is that too many candidates will stand to make ranking them a sensible exercise.

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