Saturday, October 15, 2022

Hamilton voters shrug

There were two areas I was following: Hamilton/Waikato and Auckland, especially the part of the North Shore where Nigel and I lived until 2017. To avoid making this post too long, I’ll talk about Auckland’s election in a separate post. To start, I’ll talk about where I live, Hamilton and the Waikato.


First, it’s important to note that back in 2020, the Hamilton City Council changed the way the city’s elections were run from the traditional First Past the Post system to Single Transferable Vote (STV), something I talked about at the time. I practice, we could rank all the candidates in a particular race, or just some of them. I chose this second method. The final results of the 2022 election were released yesterday evening, October 14.

Mayor: Paula Southgate was re-elected Mayor of Hamilton. I was glad about that because I ranked her #1. However, I didn’t rank any of the other candidates because I didn’t want any of the others to have a shot at winning. We had some real doozies on the ballot this year.

The mayoral candidate who came in dead last said in her candidate statement in the booklet posted with our ballots, “I may not have testicles, but I have more balls than most!” (exclamation mark in the original). The guy who came in second to last wrote—and this is verbatim:
As a universalist Christian part of the interfaith movement I believe in the endtime divine kingpriests heads of the 7 mountains transforming family religion education media and Government.
My honest reaction was, WTAF?!! though I said all the words. I don’t expect everyone to write in perfect prose or to use perfect grammar, but making friends with commas would be useful for people with high ambitions: “I’m a Father and would like to be Father of Kirikiriroa providing parental care and support to Fathers Mothers and Children.” The people of Kirirkiriroa Hamilton declined his offer, which is awesome, but personally I think the “balls” lady ought to have bounced above him in the rankings. The guy's candidate statement was probably the most unhinged I’ve ever seen.

The co-leader of a tiny far-right anti-vaccine and anti-government fringe political party came in fourth, sadly, but that was 1248 votes out of 32,354 cast, so, that’s something, I guess? At least we know how many loons are determined to vote? 

Hamilton has three wards for the City Council. The two general electorate wards are East Ward and West Ward roughly referring to sides of the Waikato River, and each elect six councillors. The third ward, Kirikiriroa Maaori Ward, has two Councillors to match the Māori population of Hamilton as closely as possible. It’s for voters on the Māori Electoral Roll only, and was just established this year to ensure Māori representation (Side note: Tainui, which is the Iwi for this region, uses double vowels rather than the more common macon—they write Maaori instead of Māori—and Hamilton uses Tainui’s preferred spellings; I don't, except in proper titles).

I live in West Ward, and I ranked 8 of the 17 candidates. Four of the candidates I ranked were elected, which, depending on how you look at it, means I could say that 50% of the candidates I ranked were elected, or that two thirds of the candidates who were elected to Council in West Ward were ones I ranked. I prefer this second option. Because of course I would.

I ranked only 8 candidates because I didn’t especially like the other 9, to varying degrees. The two elected to Council that I didn’t rank were candidates I didn’t want on Council, however, they weren’t ones I DIDN’T want, either: It wasn’t that I opposed them, it was just that I thought there were others who would be better for whatever reason. However, there were three candidates I absolutely did NOT want on Council, but neither did most everyone else—fortunately.

Among the candidates I ranked was Angela O’Leary, who was the second place finisher in the Ward, and yesterday the Mayor appointed her the new Deputy Mayor. O’Leary replaces the Geoff Taylor, who was the top vote-getter in West Ward—and the chief rival to the Mayor (he finished second to her in the mayoral race, some 1800 votes behind her. I didn’t rank him for either race, but I’m not upset he was re-elected to Council (yet?).

Overall, 9 of Hamilton’s 15 members of the City Council are women, and now so are both the top leadership roles for the elected Council. Hamilton’s results don’t really tell us much of the “will” of the electorate, not when only around 30% of eligible voters could be bothered to return their postal ballots. Also, it looks like only one pretty clearly hard-right candidate was elected (in East Ward), so it doesn’t look like Hamilton voters have suddenly veered to the right. Sadly, the leader of the extremist party came in third in the race for the two seats for the Kirikiriroa Maaori Ward, and while she lost, it was far too high.


I must begin by stating my bias: Waikato Regional Council is, in my not at all humble opinion, a pointless extra layer of governance and bureaucracy and cost to ratepayers, on top of all that for Hamilton City. I personally believe that there have got to me more sensible ways to do achieve regional goals without more politicians, bureaucrats, and costs. In American terms, it’s a bit like county government on top of governments of cities and towns, and considering that even rural areas have a town council, regional councils seem superfluous. Worse, the regional council still uses the old fashioned First Past the Post voting system.

The final results [PDF] were released yesterday or today (there’s no clear time stamp on their site).

We could vote for four candidates for the “Hamilton constituency”, which is what our voting area for the city is called. I voted for only two, both of whom won. I was very pleased that the two candidates I least wanted didn’t win (one of who came across as racist, the other as dogwhistling to the rightwing). The two winners I didn’t vote for didn’t bother me, but I was basically “meh” about them both, so not overly disappointed—especially because there were no better candidates.

Sadly, one extremist was elected to the Regional Council from a constituency south of Hamilton. He was the second-highest polling candidate (out of two elected), and is notorious for spreading conspiracy theories, among other things. Our former lawyer lost a seat in yet another constituency.

That’s it for Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council for another three years. I have absolutely no idea what will happen between then and now, but, as always, I’ll be watching.

NZ voters send local government a message: ‘Meh.’ – the first post in this series


Roger Owen Green said...

So you do have loonies that can get elected. I think our percentage is greater.

Arthur Schenck said...

Yes, with only around a dozen actually elected nationwide, despite the tiny voter turnout for local elections, it would seem our percentage is a lot lower.