Hello there folks,
I am intending to write a series of posts about local government politics, with the aim of enlightening and also encouraging people, particularly the kind of people who read this blog, to run for the 2016 local government elections.
Why? Well it is a great opportunity to work with others to make change in your community and your region. Yes it can be incredibly frustrating, and not everyone is suited to the work. I'm hoping that through writing this series you'll get a sense not only of what is possible to achieve in local government if you are elected but also if you don't run but are interested in making local change working alongside those who do. There should be some helpful bits that will assist with assessing candidates for your own 2016 votes as well.
Why now? Because even though the voting doesn't happen until September/October 2016 if you are going to run it's a good idea to start thinking about that now. I don't know a lot about the tickets (groups of candidates usually with common policies) in areas outside Auckland (and even in some parts of Auckland), but I do know that many will be turning their minds to who to ask to run for them next year now and over the next few months. One ticket in Auckland is selecting their candidates shortly! (the Labour team for the Henderson Massey Local Board). While you may not need to make a definite decision about running until as late as July 2016, if you want a good shot at getting elected then a bit of time put in now and over the rest of this year is a good idea. Not a lot of time, mind, just a bit!
Why run? I'll go into that in more detail in a future post. At this point what I want to say is that I never imagined I would be a local government politician - this was an accidental career change for me - and I had no idea of the potential of the role and what councils can achieve, alongside the community, if they have elected people who operate with respect, vision and principles rooted in democracy and embracing the possible (rather than the small c conservatism that seems to dominate much local government thinking and makes change really hard).
Put briefly I am a relative rarity in local government (under 50, a woman, with young children, openly feminist and left of centre); I want to see more people like me running, and even more people who aren't a bit like me running. We desperately need diversity at the table, not least because that will result in better decision-making and new ideas.
This post will serve as an overview of the series and also an index - I'll put links to new posts up here as they go up.
I hope this series turns out to be useful, and I'm very open to suggestions for topics (I have canvassed social media and have a long list of suggestions now but feel free to add more in comments or through my other available means.)