Sunday, October 13, 2013

Win some, lose some

The preliminary results for Auckland’s Local Government election are out, with some very pleasing results—and some not too pleasing results. This is what usually happens in a democracy.

I’ll start with the good news, and at the “top of the ticket”: Len Brown was convincingly re-elected Mayor of Auckland, receiving 162,675 votes. His nearest challenger, American-born millionaire John Palino, was more than 55,000 votes behind, with 107,672 votes. Palino was arguably the only “credible” challenger, which probably helped him. He also had some sort of reality TV show that was shown in New Zealand, and that may have helped him, too, though I never saw it, so I don’t know if it could have helped him or not.

No other Mayoral challenger got much above 13,000 votes, and most received far less.

In our Ward, Councillor Ann Hartley came in third (two are elected) with 12,931 votes. I was very disappointed by this, since I’ve been a strong supporter of hers for many years. Her running mate, Chris Darby, who I voted for, too, won his race—in fact, he came in first, ahead of the incumbent conservative Councillor George Wood (14,616 votes to Wood’s 13,982). Fourth place went to Grant Gillon (12,159), but no one else got above 10,000 votes.

For our Local Board, the results were mixed. Ann Hartley was elected, coming in second to Grant Gillon. The third-place candidate was my friend Richard Hills, which was for me one of the true highlights of the results. He’s worked incredibly hard as member of the Local Board, and he campaigned hard. I’m very pleased to see voters rewarded him for that—and I think it pretty clearly is voter recognition of Richard’s work: Local races, especially for Local Boards, suffer from low voter turnout, and very often people vote for names they’ve heard somewhere. But in our Local Board election, the only candidates who polled better than Richard were two senior, well-known politicians; I think that says quite a lot about the respect voters—rightly—have for Richard. He’s one to watch for the future.

Five of the eight members of the Local Board—a clear majority—are from the Kaipatiki Voice ticket that I supported. In addition to Grant, also elected was his son, John, and a fellow candidate from their “Team of Independents” slate. I didn’t vote for any of them. In addition to the Kaipatiki Voice candidates who won, another I voted for, Ben Rogers, lost. But, at least he defeated the out-of-district candidate from the Colin Craig Party (among others); that’s a good thing.

Both candidates I voted for on the Birkenhead Licensing Trust won: Scott Espie of Kaipatiki Voice and also Marilyn Nicholls. The candidate who lost was Merv Adair, who’s been on the Licensing Trust Board since 1974. Paula Gillon won the seat previously held by her father, Grant, who did not seek re-election to the Trust Board.

On the Waitemata District Health Board, all incumbent candidates were re-elected. I didn’t vote for any of them—or anyone else, of course, since I skipped that part of the ballot entirely on principle.

One particularly outstanding result is that the main job-shopping candidate, Mary-Anne Benson-Cooper, lost ALL the elections she stood in. This is a fantastic result, as far as I’m concerned, and it has nothing to do with politics—I have no idea what her ideology is. The reason this is such good news is that she ran for FOUR different Local Boards, Auckland Councillor in a different ward than us and also the Waitemata District Health Board. I think that when someone runs for so many different positions, especially in areas where they don’t even live, it shows contempt for voters. I don’t think candidates should be allowed to stand for more than one Local Board (and I think that they should live within it’s boundaries), so I think that Ms. Benson-Cooper got the result she deserved.

The other out-of-area job shoppers, Edward Benson-Cooper and Ivan Dunn both lost all the seats they stood for, too. However, Grant Gillon, who does live in our Local Board area, won both of the Local Board seats he ran for. As far as I can tell, he’s allowed to be on both Local Boards. If that’s true, it’s pretty awful: No one can do two Local Board jobs well or give adequate attention to two entirely different Local Boards. It’s an extreme disservice to voters in both Local Board areas. Does he also get two salaries? If he really is allowed to be on two Local Boards, then Gillon should do the honourable thing and stand down from one of the two Local Boards. (I’ll update this post if I find a definitive answer)

Another person I mentioned previously, Joe Bergen, came in a fairly distant fifth place for Auckland Council in our Ward, which leads me to suspect that some conservative voters may have hedged their bets and voted only for George Wood and no one else. He also almost lost his seat on the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board: He’s only back because Chris Darby won a seat on Auckland Council so gave up his seat on their Local Board; as the next-highest polling candidate (he came in seventh place), Joe then moved up and was elected. Close call.

The biggest loser of all was democracy itself: Only 34.33% of Auckland voters could be bothered to vote; in the Kaipatiki Local Board area it was an even worse 32.6%. There’s been a lot of discussion about how to fix this, but there’s no single solution. This is an important topic, though, so I’ll talk about it in a separate post.

So, congratulations to all the people elected, commiserations to those who were not. This is what democracy is all about: We decide who to employ or not, and of course we won’t always like the results of elections. But we should all be grateful that we have that to argue about: There are plenty of places in the world where such freedoms are unknown. The system is far from perfect, sure, but we have the freedom to fix it if we choose to. Because of that, we, too, are winners.

Important note: All vote totals I’ve listed are preliminary as of this date and may or may not change when the final results are announced. The link above should still take interested readers to the final results when they’re posted.

Update October 17, 2013: The Final Election Results were posted today. There were no significant changes in the races I talked about in this post.

Related posts:
I voted, 2013 edition
Local politics

No comments: