The mayor is important, but can’t do too much without a quality group at the table.
After parliament, Auckland Council is Aotearoa’s most important elected assembly, representing just over a third of the country’s population. The mayor, who is directly elected, has a distinct and important role, but as we’re reminded ad nauseam, she or he is one vote around a table that also includes 20 councillors – a veritable score of them.
Councils tend not to caucus in the way that parliamentary parties do, though informal or semi-formal groupings, arranged by ticket, ideological stance or just plain rapport, can form.
The good news is that you don’t have to perform the triennial stab in the dark that was – for too many of us – voting for district health board members. With that time freed up, you could spend a minute or two on determining which councillors deserve your vote.
You’ll need to get your voting form in the post today (Tuesday) to be sure it will make it in time for Saturday’s noon deadline. Otherwise, take your precious envelope to one of many voting boxes around the city (see here). If you haven’t got your voting papers, even if you’re not enrolled, you can cast a special vote – it’s pretty straightforward; see here.
How many vacancies are there?
Twenty, insofar as they’re all up for grabs – and happily this time around no one will be elected unopposed. But as far as people seeking re-election is concerned, the answer is most of them. Seventeen of the 20 incumbents want another go, with just Bill Cashmore (he who was elected unopposed last time) and Cathy Casey, who has served an extraordinary 27 years as a local body representative, standing down. Oh, and Efeso Collins.
Collins?! Isn’t he standing for mayor?
Exactly. He’s standing for mayor but not for councillor, which opens up his seat.
How is the council election organised?
A total of 65 people are standing for the 20 council seats across the super city. There are 13 wards, each of which elects either one or two councillors.
Of the wards electing two councillors, nine people are running in Albany, eight in Waitākere, seven in North Shore, six in each of Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa, Howick, and Manurewa-Papakura, and just four for the two spots from Manukau.
Of those returning a single councillor, six people are running in the Rodney ward, four in each of the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki and Waitematā & Gulf wards, and just two in each of Franklin, Ōrākei and Whau.
What are the major tickets?
Some people stand as independents, others with a shared affiliation or “ticket”. The following are standing three or more council candidates – click the link to read more from the horse’s/stable’s mouth.
C&R – Communities and Residents. Formerly Citizens and Ratepayers, a centre-right grouping. Slogan: “Lower rates. Better services.”
City Vision. A centre-left grouping that includes Labour, Green and independent members. Slogan: “A strong community voice.”
Labour. You know, the red one.
Who are the candidates?
The booklet that came with your voting papers should have 150-word blurbs for your delectation. The council has more information on its Vote Auckland site, if you navigate your way through to the candidate list.
Happily, most of the candidates – 40 of the 65 – have laid out their stalls on Policy.nz. You can plug in your address, look at their offerings individually, click your favourites and compare their positions side by side, even mask their identities in the cause of purity, impervious to appearance or name.
If you need reminding about your incumbent ward councillor, the Herald’s dynamic duo, Bernard Orsman and Simon Wilson, have assessed and scored them here. Newsroom has run its eye over half a dozen of the most important ward contests here.
What about the boards?
Local boards (roughly equivalent to community boards across the country, thought with a few extra powers) are a further devolved layer of local government. There are 21 of them across the super city – plug your address into Policy.nz or check the booklet with your voting papers.
Read our explainer on community and local boards here.