By-election needed already

The local body election process is just starting and we already need a by-election in the Waitaki District.

Nominations for October’s local elections closed yesterday, with nobody willing to put themselves forward for the Ahuriri ward seat on the Waitaki District Council. Council electoral officer David Blair said that would mean a by-election would be required.

”When the [October] election is over we will have to have a by-election, which will include the Ahuriri Community Board, because we only got three [nominations] and we need five, and we will also include the Oamaru Licensing Trust ward 1, because we need three and we only got two.”

However, a by-election would not be held until the end of January or early February, he said. . .

When Alex Familton won both the mayoralty and a council seat six years ago the cost of the subsequent by-election in the Waihemo ward was given as between $5400 and $16,000, depending on whether a vote was needed.

It’s unlikely it will cost any less now.

That’s not a huge amount in terms of the council’s overall budget but it’s a cost that could have been avoided.

Publicity a few days ago before nominations closed could have highlighted the urgent need to find someone.

The retiring councillor could have found a successor, or at least ensured that the people in the ward knew they were in danger of being unrepresented.

The people in the ward, knowing their councillor wasn’t standing again, could have found someone to represent them.

And at least one of the seven of mayoral aspirants could have used the opportunity to demonstrate leadership by ensuring their was a full complement of candidates for every vacancy.

It is possible that had any or all of these been done no-one would have been willing to stand which raises a question – what happens if there’s no nominations for the by-election?

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One Response to By-election needed already

  1. Gravedodger says:

    The 1989 local body reform Act , another folly from the constitutional law giant Palmer, legislatively castrated community input and control of local government and handed far too much power to the employed executive.

    Along with all the disasters eg Tony Marriot in Hamilton and subsequently in the ‘village of the damned’, thus many examples of multi million dollar screwups, the reforms germinated and nourished a disconnect that has become a blight on the governance of NZ at local level.

    It is not only the National government that has had to intervene spectacularly in local governance when things failed as they sure did with ECAN when the regional government abortion failed for 19 years to enact a comprehensive ‘water’ plan for the fastest growing water consumption region in the country, and appoint Commissioners to sort out the mess.
    Building permit issues in Christchurch City, Minister Adams concerns around consenting, health board systemic failures, board of trustees losing their way, are just examples when central government is forced to intervene as the so called better governance fails.
    A lot of the dysfunction has its foundations in elected representatives who are proscribed fron reacting to problems created and perpetrated by paid staff either exceeding their brief or simply failing to sort out things that are beyond their traing,qualificatios or intellectual ability, but are still validated even as failure by flawed legislation indicates otherwise

    Current disquiet over excess costs being forced onto new land section pricing for subdivision being a classic case in point.

    What has happened in one of the most iconic little sections of the NZ landscape will only become more evident and the long suffering rate payers will be left to pay additional penalties for it to be sorted when abolition may have no tangible effect and cost savings provided.

    Do community boards have a place in the now impotent level of local governance, I am having considerable doubts. Not all communities have them and in some jurisdictions part of a ward can have a ‘Board’ and the balance is required to bypass that costly layer and go direct to the councillor.
    If Community Boards reverted to non paid positions where community concerned citizens served because their caring genes were sufficiently motivating? would that be noticed, better, worse, would most even care.
    I do know significant amounts of rate requirements reductions would eventuate.

    For me, and I have been there briefly to experience the impotence and mind boggling procrastinating activities of paid staff, frustrating the mirage like role that is often only an advisory one measured against outcomes and boards are all too often populated by those with an agenda liberally seasoned with a controling facet in their makeup.

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