Published: 31 August 2016
There will be keen competition in many New Zealand communities in the upcoming local authority elections.
Local Government New Zealand says a healthy number of candidates have put themselves forward for election, with 3117 people standing for 1570 seats. This is comparable with 2013, when 3197 sought seats for 1566 city, district and regional councils, and local and community boards.
While some communities appear happy with the performance of their councils – 10 mayors have been re-elected unopposed this year, up slightly from the last two elections – some areas will see much greater election activity.
In particular the elections in Porirua, with 4.6 candidates per seat, Tauranga (3.9), Hamilton City (3.7), Rotorua (2.8), Auckland (2.75) and Queenstown (2.5) will be hotly contested.
LGNZ Acting Chief Executive Helen Mexted says it is good to see candidate numbers have remained stable in 2016 following several years of decline.
The challenge now is to boost voter numbers. LGNZ has set a goal of 50 per cent voter turnout these elections, which if achieved would be the first time since the 1980s.
“Candidate numbers across the country often reflect the circumstances of different communities, but overall LGNZ is pleased to see a good number of people make the decision to stand for local government,” Ms Mexted says.
“Communities need a good range of people to choose from and we now urge voters to learn about which candidates best represent their priorities and wishes and, most importantly, make sure they vote.”
Local government plays an important role in New Zealand. In addition to giving citizens a say in how their communities are run, councils own a broad range of community assets worth more than $120 billion.
These include 90 per cent of New Zealand's road network, the bulk of the country's water and waste water networks, and libraries, recreation and community facilities. Council expenditure is approximately $8.5 billion dollars a year, representing approximately four per cent of Gross Domestic Product and 11 per cent of all public expenditure.
Ms Mexted says it is important for eligible voters to make sure they have their say in selecting the people who will make big decisions for communities across New Zealand.
“The local government elections are a one-in-three-year opportunity to have your say and be counted. By voting you have the chance to choose the people making decisions on everything from essential roading and water infrastructure to libraries, parks and community centres, to activities supporting economic growth.”
Postal voting begins on 16 September and ends on 8 October. To learn more about the elections and the election process visit www.vote2016.co.nz.