2013 Local Government Election Series – Hamilton Mayoralty

So below I give my opinions on the mayoral candidates. I have also decided to rank them as if this were an STV election. I’ll explain why I ranked them the way I did after the discussion. I looked for a website and facebook page for every candidate but may have missed one or two due to SEO stuff, if I have let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

1.

Dave Macpherson

Dave Macpherson has put more policy on his website than any other mayoral candidate. I don’t agree with all of it, but I do with most of his policy. I’m disappointed that there isn’t a specifically environmental policy amongst the sixteen documents he has posted to date, for some reason conservation efforts comes under the water metering policy. I’ll briefly go over his policies which I care the most about, I’m not even going to try to be complete in this case.

More community consultation, I support this but I think that consultation alone doesn’t really give enough power to the local community. Also his proposal for the Mayor to actively engage with community groups is an improvement but is still going to miss feedback from the significant numbers of unengaged citizens.

Jobs, Wages and Fair Treatment of Council Staff. Dave sees the council working towards improving the labour market in collaboration with business groups, WINZ and unions. He also supports a living wage for all council staff and a flatter pay structure. However in his policy on parks and recreation he proposes the council organising networks of volunteers to maintain green spaces, which seems to be undermining the job of council staff.

He is opposed to the sale of community assets and wants to increase the stock of social housing in Hamilton. However he is in favour of selling some commercial assets such as the councils share in Novotel and Ibis hotels. He is also opposed to water metering for non commercial users and supports water conservation measures.

His transport policy is long but very good with an focus on active(walking and cycling) and public(buses and trains) modes of transportation. The one point I will disagree with him on though is whether HCC should take over the buses from the WRC, there are significant benefits to this in terms of planning within the city but the buses are expensive to run and the city council doesn’t have a lot of money to spare. I fear that the HCC taking over the bus services would lead to a fare increase to cover the cost of running the buses.

This is more likely when we consider his rates policy which is to maintain the current land value system and keep rate increases below the local government rate of inflation. Both of which I disagree with. Land value rating less accurately rates wealth than the alternative capital value system and I believe that to pay down our debt while maintaining services let alone taking on the bus network as a new service requires more money, not a lesser or equal amount. This is his only policy that I substantially disagree with but it is fairly important to me.

The only other real complaint I have with Dave is that he has been on council for 15 years now and a lot of the things that he wants to change started after he started his watch. So if he couldn’t do anything over the past fifteen years why will he be able to next year.

Lastly on his facebook page he thinks being the first NZ councillor to use an apple mac is something to brag about. I’ll put up two videos for Dave, his TV ad and his mayoral debate performance.

2

Ewan Wilson

I feel that I should start the discussion on Ewan Wilson by pointing out that he has been convicted of fraud, although he calls it misuse of forms and says that it doesn’t define him. I also feel that his policy platform is based on popularity rather than being based in a set of values. He point I’m getting at is that I don’t entirely trust him to stick to his policies, although I hope he does stick to them because the platform he is running on I find acceptable.

On his website Ewan has policies split into ‘values’ and ‘why vote for me’ sections. The first mainly covers transparency in council spending and decisions while the second is a series of statements on policy issues. In terms of rates Ewan wants to restrict rate increases to inflation although he doesn’t say whether he means CPI or local government inflation, however he does want to change to a capital value based rating system which is a big plus in my book. His policy on alcohol and synthetic drugs is also positive imo by targeting the suburban sale and distribution of these products. He is also opposed to residential water metering favouring repairing water infrastructure and education. However, I am a bit uncomfortable with the emphasis he places on upgrading the airport, he describes it as his ‘biggest priority’. I don’t doubt that an upgraded airport would get more flights and therefore money and jobs, but I suspect that there would be more effective investments that would also be carbon neutral. Flicking through his website it is apparent however that the environment and social justice issues just aren’t something Ewan feels the need to comment on.

He also has a facebook page and is actually very good at replying and engaging with visitors. I’ll put up two videos for Ewan, his performance in the mayoral debate and his video ad.

3.

Ian Hanley

Ian Hanley is a former Anglican minister and former Police senior sergeant. Unlike the other candidates he has put stuff on the your vote page. He is opposed to water metering instead favouring more direct methods of water conservation. He also supports pollution controls on the Waikato River and investing in human capital to advance Hamilton’s economy. Of all the mayoral candidates he seems to be the nearest to my own political position but I don’t really know much about him.

My only real objection to Ian is that I think he is a bit too eccentric for me to be comfortable with him representing the city to the rest of New Zealand and foreign dignitaries. Which seems a bit shallow of a reason for rejecting a candidate but that is actually a big part of the job of mayor.

Take a look at him in the mayoral debate to see how he presents himself.

4.

Julie Hardaker

Julie Hardaker is the current mayor and I would rate her performance to date as being slightly sub par. To her credit three years ago the councils finances were in a terrible state and over the past three years the debt levels have been contained. However I do not like how keen Julie has been to sell off assets(such as social housing) and cut spending on various community and environmental funds and projects. She also strikes me as being a bit uninspiring as a mayor, I have heard here speak at a few events and I have always found what she says to be a bit ill-informed and/or off topic.

She has a website which details her vision for the next three years which I would rate as being above average but rather bland. For instance ‘Re-examine capital rating value’, ‘Continue to invest in the transport network, both things I support but neither is a very strong commitment. Reading her policies she seems to be proposing a continuation of the last three years much of what she wants to do is to finish off projects that have been started recently such as the Arts Agenda, the Waikato River plan and the Central City Transformation plan. She really isn’t proposing many new policies and those that she is proposing seem a bit bland, a governance review, developing more partnerships with businesses and charities and cutting red tape. She does however support water metering.

To be honest if Julie were to be re-elected I wouldn’t be particularly happy nor upset, I expect that a Hardaker led council would be fairly average with no significant changes on the staus quo either good or bad, unless external factors arise.

She also has a facebook page and below you can see how she performed at the mayoral debate.

5.

Tony Dixon

I cannot find out a lot about Tony Dixon, he doesn’t appear to have a website or facebook page so I have to base my opinion on him on the one time I have seen him speak and the blurb he provided to the council. Tony Dixon has a background in finance and insurance, however when questions move away from the strictly financial he seems a bit out of his depth, he struggled to effectively answer a question on how he would support a multi cultural Hamilton. I have also heard that he struggled to answer a question on how he would improve sustainability in Hamilton at the environment centre meeting.

Even on finance he is mistaken when he claims that the city has ‘no plans or intentions of reducing the (debt) burden on ratepayers.’ containing then gradually reducing the debt was the single most important goal of last years ten year plan. I feel that this was too conservative but it is a plan. Outside of reducing the debt he doesn’t seem to have much policy. However he ends both the speech I heard and the mayoral debate with a statement about individual freedom and how minorities take away rights from individuals. Which I struggle to get my head around exactly what he means by that but it does strike me as being a very neo-liberal/free-market fundie/leave our privilege alone position.

I feel that the mayoralty is a bit beyond Tony’s experience level at the moment, but I think given a bit more engagement with council could prove effective in some capacity in the future.

6. Arshad Chatha

Arshad is most well known for his legal troubles, which seem to have dominated his life since 2000, he has been convicted of helping others commit immigration fraud, theft and assaulting a bailiff. He also ran for Parliament in 2005 and 2008 and for the mayor of Palmerston North 2004, 07 and 10. Oddly enough in 2007 he was in prison for his fraud charges during the election campaign while campaigning on maintaining law and order in Palmerston North. So far I have sat through one of his speeches in person and it was a long ramble that was barely coherent, he didn’t even say his name. The only point that I can gather from his speech and the two videoed speeches I have seen is that he wants more ethnic/immigrant representation on council.

If you would like to see these speeches here is the one from the recent mayoral debate and here is the other from 2010. He doesn’t appear to have a website or facebook page but from what I gather his policies are fairly conservative.

7.

Tim Wikiriwhi

Tim Wikiriwhi has a blog, he is a self described christian libertarian. So I’m opposed to fairly well everything he stands for. At the moment most of his blog space seems to be dedicated to demonstrating that it is impossible for someone to be good without God, by taking a fairly illogical view of morality as originating solely and absolutely from the christian god.

I have not heard of him being at any meetings or giving any public performances and since his blog doesn’t discuss Hamilton or the election campaign then I guess he isn’t even trying to become mayor, he just felt like wasting his money on the candidate fee.

8.

Jack Gielen

The first time I met Jack was in 2010 when some vegans used to but film nights on at Waimarie house. I was waiting for the documentary to start, if I recall it was zeitgeist part 1, and Jack comes and sits beside me introduces himself tells me he is a suicide counsellor and that there is nothing on earth worse than a man committing suicide. I ask him what about if a pregnant women commits suicide and he yelled at me for around ten minutes about how the man is the heart of a family and if he dies the family ends and all of the most terrible patriarchal bullshit you can imagine. That single sentence is still all that I have said Jack, and hopefully all I ever will.

There is a lot more weird things I know about Jack but I’ll only go into the ones directly relevant to his mayoral campaign, he has a website reigninggrace.com, he also runs the NZ Suicide Prevention Trust, which is also his campaign email, but I get the impression this trust doesn’t receive a lot of e-mails. Jack considers himself a pastor counsellor, ie. suicide prevention through religion, he asks people at the meet the candidates meetings if they are Christian or not. He has also founded his own Church after God spoke to him and gave him new revelation on ‘tribal identification and daystar apostleship’. Before we get on to his policies I will add that he is running on the Sovereignty Party ticket, aka the King Jesus Sovereignty Party which campaigns for a ‘theocratic rule model’.

In terms of his policies they are kind of a mixed bag, he talks a lot about equality, social justice and opposing the power of money, he is anti-privatisation and supportive of non-Pakeha cultures. However he also wants to restrict rates to core services and a fan of the ‘heavenly hierarchical structure’ and ‘avenging murder of relative as a guiltless executor practising reconciliatory justice.’ But he insists on trying to talk over everybody else at public meetings which kind of makes me suspect he doesn’t really believe that other people are his equals. Plus I get the distinct impression he doesn’t understand a lot of the terms he uses. I’m not sure why but check out his performance in the mayoral debate to see if you can figure it out.

Reason behind the ranking.

In terms of policy the top three stand out as having the political views most similar to my own, Dave Macpherson I ranked number one purely because of his policies I feel that he has explained himself the most thoroughly and I trust him to actively work towards these goals. Wilson on the other hand, I do not trust to the same extent nor has he put as much effort into defining his position/vision so we can be sure exactly what he is standing for. Hanley or Hardaker for third was actually the hardest decision in this list, I feel that Hanley would be a poor mayor taking the city in a direction I would like while Hardaker would be average but lack the directionality of Hanley, I picked Hanley over Hardaker but it was a toss up.  Tony Dixon I consider to be out of his depth and I don’t know where he stands on anything other than finances. Arshad Chatha seems likely to spend half his term if elected in and out of court, which still makes him preferable to a libertarian and a theocratic nutter to round out the list

I hope this has been helpful to you, I hope to get the East ward candidates up on Friday or Saturday with the West Ward candidates up in the mid-late next week.

P.S. I’m struggling to embed videos from the stuff site so you will have to click on links.

3 Comments

  1. Glenice H. Gart said,

    September 18, 2013 at 15:33

    I watched some of the snippets from the Mayoral debate. Very interesting – thanks for providing those! Ewan Wilson seems to make a *big* deal of choosing as his deputy Martin Gallaher, and not to be nearly as focussed and intelligent as Dave. I would rate Julie higher than you for her explicit focus on good governance and having actually made progress on fixing the V8s and Claudelands debacles.

    • September 18, 2013 at 17:06

      Fair enough, before I wrote this Julie was probably my number two, but I was really disappointed with her plan for the city so she was dropped two places. I wasn’t sure to make of Ewan Wilson picking Gallagher as a deputy, I kind of think it is American style ticket balancing, with Gallagher being a former labour MP and Wilson being a wealthy businessman.

  2. September 22, 2013 at 04:47

    […] policy said that kids need to get high on Jesus. You can read more about him in my review of his Mayoral candidacy. For now I’ll just say that he thinks Jesus will return in 2017 and put Jack in […]


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