Nominations are closed and serious campaigning is underway. For most candidates in Hawke’s Bay (including me), “serious campaigning” means two things – put up some signs and write a 150-word profile for the voting guide. Some will leaflet. Candidate meetings are too sparsely attended to have much impact.

So, unfortunately, the most many of us will learn about the candidates is what we glean out of their brief official profiles reprinted in the “Candidate Directory” we receive in the mail with our voting ballots. I call this the “Magic 150 Words” … each candidate’s fateful self-description – who they are, what they’ve done, what they stand for, why they should be elected.

I say “unfortunately” because: a) 150 words aren’t much to work with to sell one’s fabulous qualities (try it yourself); and b) there aren’t heaps of other resources to consult (BayBuzz is trying to fix that).

So back to the Magic 150 Words.

Although they are so very important, we don’t actually get much opportunity to scrutinize them. They show up in our mail starting September 20th, and eighteen days later our ballots must be handed in. In fact, about half of voters will post their ballots within the first week! For those voters, the campaign will be over already in that first week!

Doesn’t that place huge value on those 150 words? And, consequently, shouldn’t they therefore be credible?

Effectively, a candidate can claim anything about his or her background, accomplishments or positions without fear of being called out. Unless the claim is so blatantly false or erroneous – “I was the former prime minister” – that it smacks our election officers between the eyes (and is therefore challenged before publication), it will be printed as gospel.

Of course, we’re all inclined to trust the candidates to not actually lie to us. But how about simply misleading us?

How about the Councillor – or challenger – who makes it sound like he or she has been a passionate champion of the environment or budget restraint, or ran a successful business (or whatever), when a careful reading and debate of the actual record would prove otherwise? As it’s now handled, there’s insufficient time for that scrutiny or debate to occur.

Believe me, a re-read of the 2007 Candidate Directory profiles of some Councillors who stood then and now serve would raise some eyebrows!

There’s a simple remedy. And that would be to publish all of the candidate statements now. The Council election officers have them in hand. And there are not so many that the task would be burdensome.

They should put those statements on Councils’ websites now, so they can be scrutinized by other candidates, informed individuals, and the media. That would surely help stir up some debate. It would help bring positive public attention to lesser known candidates – generally the non-incumbents – who might deserve far more consideration. And it might even enhance general interest in the elections!

Think about it … “Did you read Henrietta Schmertzler’s profile? I never realized she was so active in the community. And I like her ideas. I’ll email it to you.” Soon there’s a boomlet for Henrietta, who might otherwise go unnoticed, as voters hesitantly fill out their ballots at their dining table in solitary bewilderment … wondering, who in god’s name are these people? Or, should I believe that?

To advance this idea, BayBuzz asked each Hastings mayoral candidate for his Magic 150 Words, to publish on the BayBuzz website. Each said Yes. They’re now in our Election 2010 section, listed by candidate. Or you can read them in one document here.

Why would any candidate not want to share his or her official statement well in advance of the voting period? I can’t think of a good reason … can you?

I hope our Councils’ elections officers will rise to the challenge to publish the profiles now. But while they’re scratching their heads, I call upon all candidates to make their Magic 150 Words available to the public today. Open your raincoats!

One thing I can promise you. We’ll do our best at BayBuzz to review the profiles carefully when they do appear … and sound off if anything seems amiss.

Hmmm! Maybe that’s a reason in some minds to not publish them early!

Practicing what I preach, my Magic 150 Words are online here.

Tom Belford

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16 Comments

  1. Tom – as I have previously informed you, the Council Electoral Officers are not permitted by the legislation to publish the candidate profile statements in any form before the voting period commences on 17 September 2010.

    It is my intention to place them on the Council’s website from that date.

    That does not prevent candidates from supplying their candidate profile statements to whoever they wish. However I cannot hand them on to any third party.

    Peter Woodroffe
    Electoral Officer

  2. Happy to oblige!

    Liz Remmerswaaal, HBRC, Hastings constituency.

    Liz has been a passionate advocate for the environment in her three years on Council and has influenced the direction of many debates.

    Goals she has achieved this term include championing the Tukituki River cleanup strategy, initiating an energy audit of council and spearheading the campaign to save the ‘Enviroschools’ environmental education programme.

    Liz is a defender of democracy with open, transparent governance and and treasures her integrity.

    She believes in being careful with resources while planning to ensure future generations can enjoy the healthy outdoor lifestyle she was raised in.

    Liz sees that economic development is interwoven with caring for the environment.

    She is a mother, journalist, conservationist and a community person who works tirelessly to contribute on behalf of her constituency.

    A fifth generation New Zealander who grew up on a Hastings orchard, Liz would consider it an honour and a privilege to continue serving on Council.

    http://www.lizrem.co.nz

  3. The http://www.elections2010.co.nz site has been available for candidates to post their statements and standings on various issues since nominations opened.

    Perhaps it would be worthwhile for the council (who apparently have been prompted to promote the site so people can be informed) and other interested parties to refer to the information available there?

    I personally have learnt more about some of the candidates from that one website than I have any other year.

    I must admit, bar the mud-slinging at times and gaps in some of the information, I have also found your site very informative so thank you for that too.

  4. Hey Adele – no need to worry about youth facilities in Havelock. Wall to wall bars open all night & serving all the grog you can handle (& more). What else could a youth ask for??

  5. Giving a plausible, and occasionally photogenic stranger the big tick to represent you, on one of your local authorities for 3 years, based on 150 of their own self penned words takes a far larger leap of faith than I would be prepared to take.

    Far better to take my wise colleague’s Maxine Boag’s advice and visit the Local Government NZ site http://www.elections2010.c0.nz

    This provides most serious candidates position on 5 key issues, their personal profiles, and their offical 150 word candidate statements, all of which can be questioned and/or checked out weeks before your ballot papers arrive.

  6. Ewan McGregor

    I have been a councilor since 2004 and bring experience as a practicing environmentalist and land-related businessman. I consider myself an enthusiast with a vision for a more sustainable and green Hawkes Bay. I approach issues in a commonsense way and with an emphasis on environmental protection through education, motivation and cooperation, with regulation as a last resort. Our Regional Council is financially very well endowed and we owe future generations responsible stewardship of these assets. I am deputy chairman of the Hearings Committee, member of the Maori Committee, Chairman of the Landcare Foundation, an active member of Hastings Landmarks and the recipient of a number of forestry and environmental awards. I have just published a book Better Trees for Tomorrow’s Kiwis. My special interest on Council is land use, landscape, soil conservation and both urban and rural forestry related topics. Find out more; http://www.overthefence.org.nz.

  7. Having stood as an NCC candidate for the past

    3 elections I can relate to posting comments

    In 2001-04-07 I was the lone voice on health and environment issues related to substandard ground services.

    Many in 2010 now make claim to be who if put on the spot could not provide understanding of the environment degrading issues that face us.

    Like wise those giving lip service too back to basics as members who have allocated millions as compliant appendages to their leaders white elephant pet projects whilst pouring Napiers untreated wastewater into the sea 8 years after 30 year consents ran out.

    The same is the case with the multi million dollar HDC nonsense and with CHB into the Tuki now being baled out by HBRC ratepayers as featured in a 2 page Dom article yesterday.

    It did not state what is being instigated was an unprepared for gut reaction land trees discharge that will only provide low energy technically outdated partial treatment and is years away from implimentation.

    It is inter authority irresponsible governance long overdue central government intervention.

    Where are you Rodney Hide. 'Walk the Talk'

  8. Thank you … this is so helpful to the masses like me who don't have a clue who most of these people are… but do care! Yesterday's profiles were GREAT. My shortlist is full of new candidates because they are the ones that I really know about now. Now there's a situation! It's interesting that there has to be such a push for open information in a local democracy. Hmmmm. Hey what's the local media doing? But thanks very much for your efforts…now if I'm not careful this will be more than 150 words.

    cheers! jenny

  9. I completely agree with your view on candidate information. I am new to the area and am struggling to get clear information on who is standing for what and, to your point, what their credentials and agendas are. So, without much to go on I will be like thousands of other electors and making my decision on a variety of, sometimes, ill-considered criteria.

    That's why we get the government we deserve.

    Regards

    Robyn

  10. Adele Mohi-McGoverin HDC Candidate’s Statement

    As a new candidate for Havelock North, I aim to bring a fresh voice to the Council table. A voice that is prepared to listen first, respects others’ opinions, and is not afraid to speak up and be heard.

    I believe ratepayers dollars should be used cost-effectively; focused on core community infrastructure, facilities and services. I am concerned that we improve roading, footpaths and parking; retain our parks and green belts; protect our region’s natural and heritage resources; and provide better youth facilities.

    I have lived in the Hastings District most of my life and reside on our family property near Ocean Beach. My career has been predominantly in retail management and human resources. I have a firm understanding of finances and the need for clear, open communications. I have been both an employee and self-employed and now work part-time which will enable me to meet all my Council commitments.

  11. The website http://www.elections2010.co.nz has published electoral candidates' 150 word statements (and more detailed information) though at this stage not all of us are on it.

    You can also ask questions of candidates on that website.

    Thanks for continuing to facilitate discussion on election issues, Tom; let's hope it means there's greater interest and increased participation in voting!

  12. As in previous posts – http://www.elections2010.co.nz has an array of information provided by candidates, including 'top 5' issues and an opportunity to upload a short video too.

    Facebook is also a popular portal to learn about some of the candidates too.

    Hard copy information from any candidate will either be via paid advertisements, mailbox leaflets and of course the signage that's popped up everywhere too. The only other source of hard copy info will be in our local newspapers, the free community papers especially.

    "The Voice of HB" – Radio Kidnappers (104.7FM/1431AM) has live-to-air mayoral debates coming up and candidates may be heard as guests on normally broadcast programmes too. Podcasts can be accessed through http://www.radiokidnappers.org.nz

    Many of us candidates are out & about in our city so I'm sure they'll all agree that we'd love you to stop & talk to us about what YOU see as the election issues and beyond.

  13. Born and raised in Napier, I am married with four children.

    Nine years in retail management fostered my love of people. Four years at Work & Income re-ignited the desire to serve my community. Both gave me an insight on issues that affect so many in our community.

    I have a passion for people, regardless of background, and believe that everyone has something unique to offer. I intend be an advocate for our citizens, working on a council team that can reach agreements that will benefit us all.

    I am ready, willing, and able to serve and represent the people of Napier.

    I see us working together as a society to ensure our most vulnerable are healthy and safe. This would include developing more community-based projects to help our neighbourhoods.

    Sometimes change is necessary if we are to keep moving forward. Together, our neighbourhood is how we change the world.

  14. David Mackintosh

    Kahuranaki Ward

    Hastings District Council

    David was brought up on the family farm at Waimarama. Having worked as a sheep farmer, horticulturalist, and in sales and marketing in Hawke’s Bay, David is well qualified to represent Kahuranaki Ward in the Hastings District Council.

    David, Kerry and their two daughters have operated their family business,Kiwi Wool,at Stortford Lodge for the past 11 years. The business interfaces between the rural sector and town, giving David valuable insight into the dynamics of both communities. David’s most recent community work has been his involvement with the Little Elms Project which provides accommodation for children with cancer, and their whanau. His initiative raised over $130,000 to construct the first chalet.

    In Council David will support rigorous control of expenditure, protection of productive land and resources, and foster more sincere and open community consultation.

    Most of all David sees himself as the representative of the residents of the Kahuranaki Ward and will vigorously promote their interests in the Council.

  15. Tena koutou katoa / Greetings all

    I am Honoria Ropiha, of Ngati Kahungunu descent. I am a mother, raised in Hastings, presently living in Napier, with whanau connections from Mahia to Porongahau – I will seek to represent communities throughout the Bay.

    I am standing because I believe there is a need for better governance of our DHB, in order to protect and strengthen health services delivered within our communities.

    With my academic background in Health System Services (post-graduate), and employment within the health sector, I have the knowledge and experience to ensure that our DHB regains focus on what is important – the delivery of high quality health services.

    If elected my focus will be on:

    – Effective, transparent governance processes;

    – Fair, equitable funding decisions focused on needs;

    – Strengthening access to health services.

    I bring to the board table integrity, diligence, and a sincerity to serve our community.

  16. Hi there Tom…somehow I missed the official invitation to provide you with my 'magic' 150 words, but print them now below. Don't visit your site enough to have realised that I wasn't 'in the circle' Cheers, Robert.

    I'm happy to email my flier to anybody that emails me and also direct people to the Government website as well http://www.elections2010.co.nz – for all those that have sent questionaires through directly, thanks for the opportunity to share my views, they may not be the same as yours but hopefully it helps you get a picture of who I am and what I stand for.

    150 Word Profile for Robert Burnside

    Standing For Regional Council

    Hastings

    “I was born in the Bay, have lived and worked here all my life. My commitment to the Region is 100%”

    “My contribution to the Hastings District Council helped ensure the purchase of Heretaunga House, retained a transfer station at Blackbridge and introduced a mandate to save 5% on costs. Ratepayer victories, such as repairs to a dangerous curbside bring real satisfaction to me. I’ll bring this ‘can do’ attitude to the Regional Council.”

    “The current economy is still tough, Councils must consider how they charge ratepayers and that those charges are fair…not arbitrarily introduced without regard.”

    “Dishing out abatement notices when communication breaks down has got to stop. Most issues can be solved by talking to people. It’s no secret that threats of legal action against ratepayers and other Councils are a key factor in my standing for the Regional Council.”

    “I understand the need for balance, for the economy and the environment. Clean Earth ltd, the company I operate with my wife, Deborah diverted over 11,500m³ of waste into recycling last year. The innovation, experience and energy necessary to create business success during the recession is an attribute I’ll bring to the Council table.”

    “I’ve raised my family here, I want to see the Bay thrive and be the place my boys can choose for their futures.”

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