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September 30, 2013 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

LOL-cal Politics

In the 2010 Wellington City Council election, just 40 per cent of eligible voters in our fine city bothered to cast a vote to determine who would be elected as Mayor, councillors, DHB members or regional councillors. Dismal turnout is a feature of local-government elections all over New Zealand, showing that perhaps councils’ focus on rates, rats and rubbish doesn’t have the appeal of central-government elections. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to candidates, but talent is spread thin, and the veils covering the sexism and craziness of some candidates are even thinner.

Challenging Celia Wade-Brown is John Morrison, washed-up cricketer and commentator who is now taking a crack at the mayoralty, campaigning on a platform of moustaches, sports and sexism. Morrison’s campaign showed promise in the early stages; he led an enthusiastic campaign while Celia pedalled backwards. He was the answer to Wellington’s woes, the silver fox here to rehabilitate the city after Celia’s failure to, well, do anything. However, his popularity was short-lived after a joke about showering with a painted model exposed him as just another sexist old white dude running for office. It wasn’t long before he became a sexist old white turnout-suppressing dude as well, after Salient exposed his efforts to prevent a ballot box being located at Kelburn campus. Of course, bad news comes in threes, and just days after ballot papers were delivered it was discovered that Morrison sent different variations of campaign material to voters—a shopping theme for females, and sports-focussed for men.

Fortunately for Morrison, while his campaign might be going down the gurgler, his main opponent is hardly running a campaign at all. Celia has been showing up to community meetings, but has been almost invisible around the city. Her campaign at least is an accurate reflection of her mayoralty—totally ineffective. This race is far from over, and, like 2010’s, is likely to be decided by the closest of margins.

Of course, the race to be the Mayor is relatively tame, compared to the battle to win Council seats. Particular highlights include Bryan “PEPTALKS” Pepperell, whose campaign includes feature-length YouTube videos where he narrates his breakfast and analyses neoliberal banking models, and Don McDonald, whose official profile is somewhere between a stream of consciousness and a random selection of words, thrown at a page.

While the selection in this election might be one of choosing the lesser of many evils, it is important. VUWSA has run excellent campaigns on improving rental housing and student bus fares, and your vote can make those ideas reality. The choices might be bleak, but the outcome is important for student life in our city. Vote, and vote wisely.


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