The Wellington Mayoralty

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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