A grey, dull Hamiltonian election day

This afternoon, I went to the FreeFM studio to hang out with some presenters, supporters, and candidates while preliminary results came in for the local body elections.

I was already feeling rather “meh” about the whole “democratic” process – because Hamilton had been tracking to have one of the worst (if not the worst) voter turnouts in the country.  As of 8.30am this morning about 30% voted, that’s down from 38% in 2013. Shocking really.  It’s shocking because of the extreme apathy and lack of engagement in processes which have real consequences on our day to day life.  It’s the young, the poor and the minority groups in our communities who don’t vote but if they did it would make a huge difference to the status quo.  That status quo was (unfortunately) strengthened for another three years this afternoon.

I was shocked and disappointed when we got an early result that Andrew King was leading the Mayoralty race.  I didn’t see that coming.  I would have put money on it being between Chris Simpson and Paula Southgate.  In hindsight I wonder if that was more just hoping that Hamilton would vote in a progressive mayor with inclusive leadership.

King is apparently a nice guy (I haven’t met him) and I personally really like some of the things he stands for , but I didn’t pick him as being the best leader.  That result made me start to worry about how voting would go for the Councillors, especially given I was strongly in support of  new faces livening things up with fresh ideas.

However, it wasn’t to be this time around.  Preliminary results saw the council looking very much the same as the last term.  It’s hard to shake an incumbent out, which meant many of the people I was most interested in seeing elected, not cross the line.  It seems like such a shame, that we miss out on new experience, skills, ideas and personalities. However, I’m sure that they’ll continue to make Hamilton better in the range of roles that they currently do in our communities.  I feel guttered for them, and see the physical, mental, emotional and financial toll being notable.  Putting yourself up as a new candidate is extremely difficult.  You have to work hard – with no rhyme or reason in how to be successful on the day.  To the Community Voice candidates (Anna, Peter and Hiki);  Nick Johnson, Max Coyle, Jason Howarth, and all other candidates who haven’t made it in this time – you are still awesome – and I sincerely hope to see more of what you offer our city in the future (after a well deserved break).

Hamilton West.  I was happy to see Geoff Taylor elected in, but he was the only new candidate UNLESS King is confirmed Mayor in which case Siggi Henry will get in. Most of the people I’ve spoken to aren’t happy about her getting in, but … that’s the voting system for you.  Time will tell if Hamilton lives to regret that one.

Hamilton East.  The top three spots went to candidates who also ran for Mayor, which begs the question about whether strategically it’s a good idea to run for Mayor to get the extra press coverage…. The other newcomer to be elected in is Mark Bunting who I believe to be a great choice and I’m genuinely looking forward to what he does in his time at the table.

Something that becomes glaringly obvious when I look at the people who will be sitting around our council table in the new term is a lack of diversity.  Most significantly for me, is that only 29% of elected members are female.  Women are clearly under-represented. This is primarily because females don’t put their hand up for the job.  (I’m a clear test case for this, as I NEARLY did, deciding not to for reasons you can read about in “Women! Why aren’t you standing?”.  As I work towards the next election which I intend to run for, I will also continue to support other women who are elected in, and others who also want to run.  Together we are better.  You can read a bit more about this in today’s article about Women in Politics.

So now, we wait for final results (up to a few days) but it’s unlikely to see any significant shifts… especially given abysmal rates of voting anyway.  A huge thank you to @FreeFm for hosting us today – it was definitely nice to get to hang out with other politically active people 🙂

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