Do you know who you're voting for?
Questions to ask our future mayor, councillors and board members.
The local elections are coming up fast. In just a few weeks - from 21 September in fact - you can vote in your local body elections to pick your next mayor, councillors and board members. Local elections are generally considered less exciting than the national election but I think they’re so important. With that in mind - I thought I’d share some questions and conversation starters for people unsure of who to choose to be their voice in decisions made for their community.
All over social media right now you’ll see advertising for hopeful wannabe councillors trying to get your vote. I really encourage you to use social media to ask them questions - social media is often a grotesque cesspit of the worst humans ever fighting over nothing - but it’s also sometimes a great transparent platform for finding out what your would-be councillors actually think.
Here are some questions I think are good to ask councillors - in no particular order and definitely not a full list. I haven’t covered lots of things like support for small business and infrastructure. I’d love to hear good questions you think should be asked so I can include them in this list. I’m in Tāmaki Makaurau juggling lots of mahi so I do apologise for missing things - it’s not that I don’t think they are important.
We’re also all different with different things that are important to us. For me, if I see people not wearing a mask indoors I think “ugh” but you might be OK with that. I see close ties to Chambers of Commerce as a huge negative, for you - it might be a positive. Let’s give space for each other’s views eh?
Right off the bat, it’s crucial to remember anti-vaccination groups wanting to make NZ 'ungovernable' have targeted local body elections.
Super important questions to ask of every candidate are:
Do you have any ties - past or present - to Voices for Freedom?
Did you attend or support the anti-vaccination, anti-mandate protests around Aotearoa/parliament occupation in Te Whanganui-a-Tara?
The housing crisis
Thanks to the awesome folks at Renters United - there’s heaps of information out there on how to choose candidates that care about housing beyond being massive wealth hoarders who see property as their retirement plan.
Great questions to ask, as suggested by Renters United are:
Do you rent or own?
How many properties do you own?
In places like where I live, where 44% of Wellingtonians don’t own property, this is a crucial question. How can someone who owns 12 properties understand what it’s like to be forced to move dozens of times through your child’s life simply because the landlord knows they can keep raising rent?
What will you do to support the rights of renters?
If voted in, what will you do to improve the quality of rental housing?
If voted in, what will you do to lower the cost of renting?
Will you commit to the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment so renters can meaningfully enforce their right to a healthy home?
Will you commit to providing council funding for dedicated tenants advocacy services?
Do you support local authorities retaining ownership over council housing and will you lobby for expansion of the income related rent subsidy to councils?
How will you commit to implementing the MDRS and NPS-UD? (“The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) are the best tools councils have to encourage housing to be built near public transport and city centres.” - Renters United) Thanks Ansy!
Will you use your platform to end the use of the Ratepayer Roll in local elections?
Cost of living
Do you believe we currently have a cost-of-living crisis in Aotearoa?
Do you have policy or plans to support the unhoused in your region?
How will you be addressing poverty in your region?
What role do you think the council has in addressing poverty?
Do you know how many children are living in poverty in your city? Do you have a good understanding of what it’s like raising a family on minimum wage in your region?
How will you support people in emergency housing?
Working with Mana Whenua
What relationships do you have with mana whenua – iwi – in your region?
What does Te Tiriti o Waitangi mean to you?
How do you uphold the treaty partnership in your every day life?
Do you support co-governance and what does co-governance mean to you?
Will you acknowledge, support, and uphold the Crown’s guarantees to Māori in the Treaty, including the guarantee of tino rangatiratanga, requiring the use of partnership mechanisms for the joint governance and management of freshwater taonga?
Do you have a climate change policy?
Councils have statutory responsibilities to avoid or mitigate natural hazards and to have regard to the effects of climate change when making certain decisions. Please share your views on this and your policy around making our city a climate-resilient city.
How will you work with Mana Whenua/Tangata Whenua to address climate change impacts?
What do you think is the council’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
How do you get to work?
Do you have a policy around reducing alcohol and drug harm in our region?
What's the last fundraiser you attended?
If you were handed a thousand dollars to spend on a good cause, what would you use it for?
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing your community?
What does whanaungatanga mean to you?
Whose interests do you think councils should be working for?
How do you think local government can uphold and progress human rights?
Elections are conducted by postal vote and voting closes at noon on Saturday 8 October 2022. Make sure you vote! More info here.
I would really like to hear what questions you’d ask…Please share them! Arohanui.