While I don’t agree with all their views, I think Wellington City is well served by having a dedicated blog covering Wellington local government issues, WCC Watch. I do wish they were transparent on who runs the site (even if they with-hold names, they should disclose some information about who they are, their affiliations and motivations), but I find them reasonably balanced and less left-leaning than they were in 2010 (maybe different people in charge now).
Anyway they make it easier for me to review the Council candidates, as they have done it for me. So I can point to their reviews, and add in my own comments.
Let’s start with my ward – Lambton Ward.
I had previously said I would be voting for Nicola Young and Rex Nicholls and was undecided between John Dow and Iona Pannett for my third preference. Since then I’ve met John Dow and have to say am hugely impressed with what he has already achieved for Wellngton. He’s been involved in over a dozen major events and activities for Wellington ranging from the Wellington Gold Awards for business, the NZ International Arts Festival, the Wellington Phoenix, to events such as the a Vietnam Commemoration. He’s also worked on attracting businesses and visitors to Wellington.
While Iona has been a hard working Councillor, I reflected after meeting John that Iona’s list of achievements will probably include a fair number of things she has tried to stop such as better roads. I think there is a real contrast there.
So I’ll be ranking Nicola Young 1, and my top three preferences will go to Nicola Young, Rex Nicholls and John Dow. If you want a team of Councillors who can make things happen, rather than stop things happening, I’d urge people to give them your top three preferences.
I will still give Iona my fourth preference, which may still help her if one of the others does not make it.
Ian Apperley at Strathmore Park has also endorsed Young, Dow and Nicholls.
Next, we have Onslow-Western Ward.
Incumbents Jo Coughlan and Andy Foster should get returned. I think Jo is excellent, and she has done a huge amount around the Council’s economic strategy. Andy’s politics seem rather flexible at times, but one can’t deny he is hard working and effective.
WCC Watch suggests the third place is between Labour’s Malcolm Aitken, Simon Woolf and Hayley Robinson.
I prefer to keep party politics out of the Council. Those who stand on the Labour ticket are constitutionally bound to vote in accordance with directions of the Labour Party – either their policy manifesto, or their local body caucus/committee decisions. I don’t want Councillors who place the interests of their party ahead of the community they serve. Party politics is a necessary part of central Government, but is best kept away from local Government in my view.
I don’t really know Woolf or Robinson, but Woolf business background (the iconic Photography by Woolf) appeals to me, along with his very significant service to charities and sports. I know little about what Robinson has done or even her current job if she had one. However Ian Apperley has endorsed her as “Sweet and a little nutty” but genuinely caring.
He has also endorsed Phil Howison, and I share that endorsement. I know Phil, and think he would be very fiscally responsible Councillor. A very smart guy who would be able to deal with pretty much any portfolio area.
Third is Northern Ward.
WCC Watch thinks the likely winners are Lester, Ritchie and Sparrow with Toner and Gilberd being contenders.
Justin Lester has generally been a good Councillor, and deserve re-election.
Helene Ritchie first got elected to Wellington City Council in 1977, the same year I believe Apple Computers was formed. I think it is well and truly time for some fresh blood there.
Malcolm Sparrow has a strong background with the Tawa Local Board and I agree is likely to win a place.
My pick for a new Councillor, and the one I would rank No 1, is Jacob Toner. Jacob has the benefits of youth and enthusiasm and as well as being sound on the core stuff such as keeping rates affordable, being job-friendly, has some nice lateral ideas such as the proposed hitching posts which I have previously covered.
Ian Apperley endorses Jacob Toner as No 1 and Malcolm Sparrow as No 2.
Fourth is Eastern Ward.
All three incumbents are standing again. I know Simon (Swampy) Marsh and Ray Ahipene-Mercer and endorse both of them as 1 and 2. Ray is a left-winger but a great example of someone who can work with people of different political persuasions. WCC Watch labels Simon as active and accessible and I think that are spot on.
The third incumbent is Leonie Gill. A very nice person who has been active in many campaigns in the past. She is standing for Labour though which as I say above, I don’t see as useful in local body politics. I think with her health challenges, retirement could be a blessing in disguise for her, but if she wins again am sure she will work as hard as she can.
Karuna Muthu is standing for Mayor also, and may get a boost from the profile associated with that, as is Rob Goulden. Muthu is very engaged with ethnic community groups, but also has a good business background.
Sarah Free is running an active campaign, and is standing for the Greens. I don’t object to their being Green voices in Council but if Labour and Greens get anywhere near a majority I think we’d become a backwater. However Ian Apperley endorses Free as well-balanced and pragmatic.
John Coleman looks quite promising also and WCC Watch rates him as in with a chance. He has been involved in the Wellington Wine and Food Festivals and is a well known restaurateur.
Finally we have Southern Ward.
Paul Eagle is one of their two Councillors, and gets great reviews from almost anyone Despite the Labour affiliation he should be returned. He will no doubt in time turn as as the next MP for Rongotai.
My main priority is getting rid of Bryan Pepperell who seems unable to play a constructive role in anything, and is quite ineffectual as a Councillor (rated lowest by the Wellingtonian). He also describes fluoride as poison.
So it is a choice between Ginette McDonald and David Lee from the Greens.
I would vote for McDonald. No, not because she was Lyn of Tawa and has a high profile (ut that will help her). But she is a very active member of the Southern community has done more fundraisers etc than probably anyone else who lives there. Her heart is clearly in the right place. There are concerns over how good a fit she will be in a Council that can spend hours on complex regulatory hearings and the like and Ian Apperley thinks she’ll hate it if she gets in.
I’d rank them Eagle 1, (Ginette) McDonald 2, and Lee 3 and Pepperell last or not ranked at all.
I will do separate posts on the Mayoralty, the DHB and the Wellington Regional Council.