Posted on October 29, 2015
Auckland Mayoral Candidate Mark Thomas said those concerned about a new centre-right group supporting candidates at next year’s Auckland local body elections should consider that in 2013, 24 Labour party candidates were elected to Auckland Council including two councillors.
“This was a significant increase and indicated that in parts of our region, voters responded to a clearer direction of what candidates stand for.”
“As an independent candidate for Mayor I will continue to work constructively with any political group who has Auckland’s interests at heart, as I have for the last five years on Auckland Council.”
“However with voter turnout at only 37% in 2013, positive and useful steps by any group to provide greater clarity for voters should be welcomed.”
Thomas said Aucklanders were telling him they didn’t want local body issues politicised in the way central government issues are, but as he travelled around the region many were saying they want a clearer idea of who to vote for and what people stand for.
“Local government activity such as footpaths, parks maintenance and library management are not political, but how much council spends on this type of activity compared to others is.”
“Although voters value rubbish collection, water distribution and other core council services these issues don’t often compel them to vote. More candidates standing around the region who send a clearer message how they approach council funding and planning issues can only help.”
Political groups of different persuasions have existed all around Auckland for generations. Bob Harvey ran his Team West in Waitakere city for many years. Citizens and Ratepayers and City Vision have battled it out in Auckland City since the late 1990’s. Labour has been a long-time presence in old Manukau City.
But since the 2010 Auckland amalgamation an array of new political tickets have formed with mixed success, and the election turnout has fallen from 50% to 37%.
The former National party candidate says better identification of candidates and what they stand for should be welcome news to the hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders who don’t get very excited at each local body election and who don’t vote.