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Local body election season is well underway

The local body election season is well underway in Wairarapa and if you are one of those organised or decisive people and have voted already   –   well done. I’m sure that’s a massive load off your mind.

If, however, you are not one of those people and, like me, you want to make the most of every available minute to arrive at a final decision.   –   good luck. The extra time might not be as helpful as you thought it would be.

On the subject of casting a vote, I happily take a swipe at one of my brothers and his dubious strategy for voting. He votes the same way, as in votes for the same party, every time. I’m referring to general elections of course, but there is an important point to be made here. When it comes to elections, my brother is, frankly, lazy. He doesn’t want to know about the most important issues are, or read about any particular policy to address said issues. He couldn’t name a minister or a shadow minister in any of the main portfolios.  So he just votes for the same side of the political spectrum regardless. The whole idea of MMP has completely passed him by. No strategic thinking is needed when one’s mind is already made up, and there will be no changing of that mind in the foreseeable future. Lazy.

Local body elections are quite different, and for many reasons. For instance, it is very much about the individual. The individual running for mayor, or the individual running for council or a community board or similar. Yes, there are party affiliations among the candidates, and there is nothing terribly wrong or particularly surprising about that, just as long as it doesn’t become a distraction to the task at hand. There are key issues, invariably about old and failing infrastructure and why rates only ever go up and never go down.

Statistics show that New Zealanders are not especially enthusiastic about elections. Either general or local. Chances are that about 50 per cent of the eligible voting public will bother to cast a vote at the 2022 local body elections, despite having plenty of time to do so. They don’t even have to leave the comfort of their digital device. Ratepayer turnout will be considerably higher.

This brings me back to being lazy.

I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of countless calls or emails this year from disgruntled ratepayers from all over the district who have a good old vent about the mayor, the council, or both. They don’t hold back as they point out exactly where the council, or mayor, is going wrong. And so I ask: “Have you decided who you are voting for?” Silence. Followed by excuses. And more vitriol. For some, the choice of candidate is so poor, that they won’t even vote. Lazy.

Some don’t even know what ward they are in. I don’t think they’ve voted in a very long time, if ever.

Perhaps you could say to such people … ”If you don’t vote, don’t complain … for three years.”

I doubt it will shut them up, but it’s worth a try.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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