I have had the opportunity to get to know some of the candidates for mayor in the lead-up to the Wanganui District Council elections. First of all, whilst I am passionate about ideas, I cannot say I really have much interest in the day-to-day politicking. Having attended one candidates election meeting, and the debate between the top 6 (of 12) candidates, I am really only interested in the process for local elections, as well as the issues which are impacting on Wanganui. I have only been in Wanganui for 2 years, so this was an opportunity to learn more.
I must say the meeting in the Wanganui Memorial Hall was more comic than anything else. How may election campaigns have a self-proclaimed ignoramus who thinks he can learn it on the job, and a boy-wonder (21yo) transvestite. What one realises about politics is that there is a lot of self-promotion. Being a mayor or councillor is a means to get business profile through politics. For this reason, it just might make more sense to reduce the number of councillors from 12 part-time members to 6 full-time members. Why? This would discourage the practice of using politics for business purposes, as well as attracting committed public servants, as well as a higher quality of candidate. Wanganui is a small place. If a 21yo kid is a serious contender then we need to raise the standard.
People will say that kids need representation. True enough, but at 21yo, you have spent more time with a dummy in your mouth than as an independent human being. That is not to say this guy is not smarter than 50% of the population. He is very smart and funny. But lets wait until he has at least learned a few life lessons. He displayed little understanding of economics. Sadly, neither did any of the other candidates.
Phillipa Hogan-Rice (?) opened with by far the best speech, but she really lost it for the impromptu questions. She spent most of the time talking about her sporting career, and how being a parent would make her a better mayor. She even said she was tough because she had to fight her brothers. This is no playground leadership issue. Again...low standards. She was even shown up by the 'smart kid'. Her sole solid position was her initial presentation and her position on EnergyDirect. I would have voted for her if she endured, but she really did lose credibility in the end. She actually undersold her skills on committees as a prior councillor. I think she lost her confidence under attack by 'boy wonder'.
Annette Main actually had a poor initial presentation. The problem was it was generic and boring. She did however recover in the impromptu questionnaire, and clearly has the most skill as a speaker, and the best leadership skills. She has abodes in Wanganui City and rural Wanganui, she owns a business, she manages the city market, and has a lot of connections in the City. She has a lot of committee and regional government experience. She did not really faulter. She did not have the personality of any of the other candidates, but that might come with more confidence, and I see it as less important. The most important issue is economic management, and as 'boy wonder' noted, Philippa is 'off-track' promoting an expensive velodrome which will 'maybe' used by 50 new residents. Life prospective Olympians have much money to invest in Wanganui. Starved for cash, and such facilities will attract people for just a week a year. Silly idea. The 'boy wonder' had a good suggestion - an ice rink. Though I have no info on such facilities. It would be far cheaper to build. So 'boy wonder' is a smart kid.
Dot McKinnon is the other serious contender by virtue of her position as Deputy Mayor. The problem with her is that she is boring and inept. She has been a patsy for outgoing Michael Law. She has little understanding of the issues, when as Deputy Mayor, she ought to be the strongest of the speakers. She was saying 'training' was the key to increasing employment growth in Wanganui. Actually training will actually reduce the population because it will encourage skilled people to leave for higher incomes and opportunities elsewhere. Job creation or demand is the critical issue, so increasing services, and increasing promotion of this great city is the key. i.e. It is about attracting foreigners and city people with money. The lifestylers like authors and early retirees are the key, including those internet savvy business operators from abroad who can earn USDs. Training = emigration to Australia or Auckland. She lack of market realism reminds me of those annoying bureaucrats. She reminds me of Kevin Rudd. Uninspiring!
In conclusion, I am worried that Annette Main is a 'soft' humanist, however I think she is the most promising person, with a lot of capable people behind her.