Wellington Scoop

Who will you vote for? And why?

Do mayors have an advantage over other mayoral candidates? With local body elections not much more than four months away, voters will be considering how much they know about the people who want their votes. We probably know more about the mayors than about the people who are standing against them.

Part of the Hutt city website shows how visible a busy mayor can be – David Ogden has his own picture gallery with more than 70 photos.

Wellington city’s website doesn’t give the same treatment to Mayor Kerry Prendergast, though it offers her profile. She also has a page on the City Mayors website, though it’s out of date because it states that she isn’t standing again, whereas she has decided to seek a fourth term. Unlike the candidates who are standing against her, she doesn’t seem to have her own website or Facebook page. But there’s no denying her visibility. As the The DomPost reported last September, she’s seen at a dozen city events each week.

This year her challengers include two newcomers. Jack Yan has not one but two websites. One is named Your Wellington. The other is more precise; it’s called Jack Yan For Mayor. He’s doing some serious campaigning on Facebook too, and he has a group of active supporters who write letters and send comments to websites.

The second new candidate is Miramar veterinarian Allan Probert, who makes lots of statements and has developed constructive contacts with media people. His website address is optimistically named Wellington Mayor. And here’s his Facebook page.

Veteran councilor Bryan Pepperell is standing again for the mayoralty. His website, named PeppTalk, includes videoclips and a link to his MySpace page. He’s been talking and blogging recently on issues affecting control of Wellington’s water supply, on which councilors are divided.

His views on water differ from those of Councilor Celia Wade-Brown, whose decision to stand for the mayoralty can be found here on the Greens website. She also has a presence on Facebook. And last week she lifted her visibility when she was photographed in a kayak wearing mayoral yellow and campaigning for more promotion of outdoor water sports.

At least two more mayoral candidates are expected to emerge before nominations close on August 20. There’ve been reports that Labour will enter the race. And Sir Robert Jones has given notice that he’ll be announcing a mayoral candidate to lead his Vibrant Wellington team. His campaign got headlines last year when he announced his policy of a traffic-free Golden Mile. Last time he was active in council elections, his mayoral candidate was Carmen. It’ll be a challenge for him to find another candidate with equal fame, or notoriety.

There are no polling booths for local body elections. You vote by mail, which is credited with encouraging more people to vote, though the numbers in Wellington went down last time. Here’s the timetable: nominations will be received from 23 July. Nominations close on 20 August, at midday. Postal voting starts on 17 September and ends at noon on 9 October. The results should be known that night.

The lists of Wellington candidates used to be in alphabetical order, but some defeated councilors blamed the fact that their names were at the end of the list. “There is a perception … that candidates with a surname starting at the top end of the alphabet have an unfair advantage,” according to a council report. Hutt City and Kapiti Coast have stayed with alphabetical listings. But Wellington lists its candidates in random order – the council says there’ve been no complaints since the system was introduced five years ago. Wellington has also given up the “first past the post” voting system. Instead, it uses the Single Transferable Vote system – one of only eight councils that chose this system last time.

It’s supposed to be simple, but people don’t seem to understand it. Advice from the knowledgeable: if there’s someone that you don’t want to be elected, then don’t put a number alongside his or her name.

[Since this article was published, Allan Probert has announced that he will not be standing for the Wellington mayoralty.]


  1. Jarrod Coburn, 11. May 2010, 10:03

    I don’t know who I’m going to vote for, but I can tell you this: I WILL BE VOTING.

    Wellingtonians – you have a duty to do likewise. And remember what Lindsay said at the end of his article… if you don’t want someone to get in then don’t put a number next to their name!

  2. Bryan Pepperell, 11. May 2010, 15:43

    For the record here are my Websites:
    http://www.blogger.com / Back To The Future
    http://www.myspace.com / pepptalk
    http://www.youtube.com / BryanPepperell
    http://www.twitter.com / peppoverstands
    http://www.facebook.com / Bryan Pepperell
    My e-mail is bryan.pepperell@gmail.com

  3. Vryn S.Evans, 12. May 2010, 12:29

    Question should be asked why Wellington City Council officers and the highly paid Chief Executive Officer have allowed people who owe substantial rate and lease arrears beyond due date to either default or receive special arrangements for repayment into our City’s coffers. I hope interest is added. Why the silence from our elected Councillors on this subject.?

  4. Vryn S.Evans, 12. May 2010, 12:45

    Refer Wellingtioian 6/5/10. Interesting how Wellington’s permanent City Councillor, Mr.A.Foster,expousing his finite knowledge on traffic flows, which are contradictory to that of our Traffic Police. Wellington’s City’s narrow roads combined with vehicle parking hardly conducive to maintaining the posted speed limit. The buses with their high torque engines post more of a threat to pedestrians (as we’ve seen via the media) than motorists. Also check out some of the speeds our City’s bicyclists travel at – yes they do travel over 50. No doubt the aforementioned Councillor will become enrgaed at my comment !

  5. Bryan Pepperell, 12. May 2010, 13:54

    As the media hardly ever publish voting records of councillors and the mayor it is very difficult to form judgments about those who claim to represent us.

    Perhaps for many ratepayers affordability is a major concern. Rates can be confusing at the best of times and many people equate rates with services but rates are a tax. The local tax has been shifted from the business sector on to the home owner under Mayors Blumsky and Prendergast. This means the home owner and those who rent pay a bigger share of the rates or local tax. It has been said that since a viable business deducts and passes on rates (local tax) the residents are paying all the rates (local tax). So who voted to change the tax on the council? Surely funding is the most important issue?

    Does the Council adhere to democratic principles? By this I mean making balanced decisions on the basis of looking after majorities and protecting minorities and sharing the benefits. That raises an interesting question that we should all ask when council makes decisions. Who benefits for example when rates (local Tax) is shifted from the business sector to the home owner. Is there any protection for those who don’t benefit from such a decision? If not has Council failed in its democratic duty. Perhaps the most important issue for the electors is who benefits from Council’s decisions.

  6. ChangeAndHope, 12. May 2010, 14:46

    What is needed is a big change from the old cliches of politics: All talk and nothing being done. Wellington loses out to cities such as:

    Porirua- Digital City
    Auckland-Super City
    Christchurch-Green car city
    Dunedin-Free wifi city

    Wellington needs a big push forward because its all about the community that builds the city and not the ruling elites. Its time for transparency and its time for a change and a city we all want: I am backing Jack Yan for Mayor of Wellington (http://jackyanformayor.org/).

  7. Jack Yan, 13. May 2010, 0:51

    Lindsay, this is perhaps the best balanced summary of the candidates so far. And that’s good advice at the close of your article.

    And Jarrod is absolutely correct that we have a duty to vote. We have a city in a deep deficit, so we need the budget balanced. There’s still economic uncertainty, so someone needs to come in with a decent and sustainable plan for job creation—I’ve proposed building our tech and creative clusters. I’ve discussed free wifi for the city—not a complete panacea but a solution that will create the modern infrastructure we need at a low cost. But most of all, fellow Wellingtonians whom I come across agree with me that we need greater transparency—from webcasting council meetings to running a city blog where commenting is considered as strong as sending in a formal submission.

    Whomever we vote for, this election should be about sending political élites a message that we don’t want “politics as usual” in Wellington. It will be about, however, building the city we want.

  8. Alex, 13. May 2010, 1:08

    Since we’re big on voting records, let’s see if any of the councillors or mayor would put up their entire voting record. Let’s include those that voted for and against the issues that affects all Wellingtonians. Let’s see:

    Rate increase
    Salary increase
    Kilbirnie Indoor Sports stadium overrun project funding
    Manners Mall being un-pedestrianized
    Zealandia loan
    Waterfront ice skating rink
    Kumototo designer toilets

  9. JB, 14. May 2010, 22:41

    Your advice on Single Transferable Vote isn’t quite right.

    If you don’t like someone, rank them last. If you don’t like three candidates, rank those three after you rank everyone else.

    Keep in mind that ranking a lesser candidate only has an impact if your first choice has already been defeated. So you should rank “lesser of two evils” ahead of “greater of two evils.”

  10. Jarrod Coburn, 17. May 2010, 8:31

    JB, you are wrong there.

    If you do not want a person to get a vote then do not put a number next to their name.

    Putting a lower – or the lowest – number could still result in a vote for that person if there is no clear winner found in earlier iterations of the counting, which is exactly what happened last election in many cases.

  11. Ruz, 5. June 2010, 10:57

    As a rule of thumb, I don’t generally vote for sitting councillors/mayors. I figure that it is better to get new people onto Council rather than support the aspirations of those who see a councillor job as a career. Andy Foster has been a councillor for 15 years – isn’t that enough? In reality of course a good chunk of the existing Council will get re-elected, but it won’t be because of me.

  12. Keith Flinders, 7. June 2010, 21:57

    Good grief, HopeandChange. Wellington has CityLink subsidised by ratepayers. At this stage of a recession, one should not be advocating even more spending on nice to-haves. If you want to use the Internet, be prepared to pay for it and not bludge off the rest of society.

    What next? Free coffee at the Lambton Quay cafes paid for by ratepayers in order to make this a vibrant city?

  13. Dianne Buchan, 10. June 2010, 16:00

    Hey there Lindsay and co, don’t forget it is not just the City Councillors you will be voting for but also the Greater Wellington regional councillors. Voter turnout for the regional council tends to be even worse than for the city council. I think that is because most people have no idea how much responsibility regional councils have for looking after our environment. It is the regional council that decides our public transport systems, looks after our water (including getting those streams fenced off from cattle). They are supposed to protect our coastal areas from inappropriate development (think houses falling into the sea and dunes being bull-dozed). They also look after our regional parks and provide support to the thousands of every weekend to work on restoring the natural environment.. As our urban areas become more densely inhabited our rural, natural areas will become increasingly precious. We will need strong leaders with vision and knowledge to make sure coming generations have a future worth having. Young people have the most to lose from poor environmental decesions and the most to gain from electing a council with strong environmental credentials. There are 5 Wellington City seats on the regional council. I am standing for one of them. You don’t have to vote for 5 people, only vote for the ones you know and trust. Whatever else you do in September/October, VOTE and make sure your friends do too!

  14. Sven Olsen, 13. June 2010, 23:37

    Here’s a question: How many incumbent, lacklustre Councillors are going to stand for Mayor? And haven/t any of these geniuses figured out yet who benefits most from them splitting the vote? Sad, sad, sad.

  15. Allan Probert, 15. June 2010, 13:54

    I have been really interested to read the above comments all of which are interesting and I agree with many of the sentiments above. From my perspective I have not been part of the ‘system’ and therefore hope to offer a different perspective. My own agenda will be based around the following;

    1. Controlling rates- since Kerry has been mayor, the average rise is 100% and all current councillors have been part of that.

    2. Transparency and honesty and improving consultation through village planning.

    3. Supporting small and medium business in Wellington.

    4. a transport vision for Wellington.

    see my website http://www.wellingtonmayor.co.nz, my facebook page and also talk to me on twitter. Also call me personally on 0272414393 or call in and see me at the Miramar Vet Clinic

  16. ChangeAndHope, 16. June 2010, 14:24

    @ Keith Flinders I beg to differ on free wifi being an additional budget cost. Free wifi if planned properly would be fully paid by advertisers especially now when you have the Rugby World Cup 2011. In addition, it would boost some sectors of Wellington businesses, so it makes sense for the businesses to pay for it. Besides, international cities like SIngapore and San Francisco as well as Dunedin can have it, why not Wellington? On another note, the WCC should be looking at spending on what’s good for the community as well as promoting socially responsible business in Wellington and not on wasterful projects. This is why I am voting for Jack Yan because he’s a man with a vision for building the city we all want. (http://jackyanformayor.org)

  17. ViV, 20. June 2010, 18:58

    I think you’re all right somewhere in your comments so here’s my penny’s worth.
    If you don’t want a candidate in council you don’t vote for them no matter how far down the list they are, that’s the only way to make sure they don’t get YOUR vote. Unfortunately STV works better with at least 60,000+ voters in the electorate.

    Good comment on Greater Wellington, we sometimes forget they’re there.

    For those who want to get rid of some of the incumbents, stop commenting on petty issues and focus on getting them out. Use the networks you and I all have. Put the little differences aside and VOTE THEM OUT, en mass.