Ae, e hoa. This is another opinion piece encouraging you to vote in the local elections. But, stick around – I’m not going to tell you to vote because it’s ‘your civic duty‘ or because people have literally – literally, died for this democratic right. I’m not going to use those reasons because to be honest, they didn’t work for me.
I’m also not going to tell you to vote because what local government does impacts on our day to day life; from clean water to your tap, how you get around the city, the parks and community facilities in your neighbourhood to how much your rates bill is as a result.
FInally, I’m not going to pretend that the sky will fall in if certain people are elected, or not elected. We elect a mayor and twelve councillors across the city, who have equal votes – so by nature of it – nothing drastic will happen because they need a majority. In fact, local government is painfully slow and conservative – probably more due to the ties and requirements of central government than anything else- but it means ‘things tick by’ regardless of who we vote for.
So, why bother? Well, I bother – by way of voting last week, and spending the last three years committed to sharing information and encouragement to you via Politics in the Tron because I’m rethinking the role of local government and how we use it to get what we want. I want you to join me in this movement.
I want us to use local government to get more for our city. How so? Vote for the candidates who are talking about the issues you care about. Then, stick with them… support those candidates / elected councillors to get those issues across the line with their peers. Here’s an easy example…
We all care about the climate emergency right? (Okay, so we have at least three Hamilton City Councillors who still don’t get it – so I’ll rephrase). Most of us care about the climate emergency and damage to papatuuaanuku. We know that one of the biggest things we can do (right after having one less kid) is to address our obsession with cars. At a getting around town level, this inevitably leads to cycle-ways.
Choose candidates who bang on about cycleways. Easy. You wouldn’t choose a candidate who continually talks about ‘loving their car’ because they are clearly stuck in 2005 and aren’t looking to what our climate / environment needs; and aren’t considering the impact of congestion as our population grows, or heck even our increasing obesity rates which require us to get more active.
After finding out which candidates care about that issue; vote for them. Then, keep an eye on the local news, heck be proactive and message them and ask them to keep you (in fact all residents) up to date with when decisions are being made about cycleways. (I think Councillors are really bad at asking us for support on issues sometimes, but this might change if enough of us try to change things).
Funding decisions are usually during the 10 year plan or annual plan but you’d be surprised how often it pops up during the rest of the term. Once you know a decision is about to be made, get involved. Ask the councillor what they need and mobilise others to support you.
Look, I’m not so completely out of touch, that I think everyone has the time or inclination to get involved in these sorts of decisions, what I’m trying to highlight is that we can get more of what we want, and less of what we don’t – if we choose candidates who look or sound like us, and if we pay attention to the issues we care about throughout the three year term.
This includes, asking questions – or ‘holding the buggers to account’ if they vote differently to what they said they would. Accountability is a huge part of a better system.
So, this was a longer post than I expected – and I may not have articulated it well, but what I’m trying to say is – we can get more for the city we love if we choose the candidates who ‘care about what we care about’ and support them once elected. We need less of the ‘us and them’.
If you don’t like ‘them’… don’t vote for them … vote for someone else. There are a heap of new candidates standing this year who deserve your vote.
If that envelope is still on your kitchen table – here are some links to help you choose and vote.
If the voting papers didn’t turn up call the Electoral office on ☎ 0800 922 822. (Tell your boss you have permission from us to make the call on work time). #votethetron