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The Most Important Vote You Will Cast

A commentary by Bill Demeter

This October the City of Christchurch will elect a new mayor, thirteen councillors, and numerous community board members. Many people have identified the 2013 Local Government elections as the most important for Christchurch in the past fifty years; why?

You’ll have to have been sleeping for the past six years if you hadn’t noticed that the Parker-Marryatt reign has spawned a fractured and broken city council and some of the worst examples of governance and management ever witnessed in New Zealand at the local government level.

The current crop of failure was sown long before the earthquakes: the 24.5% rental increase for social housing; the Henderson Bailout; the secret deal for the Ellerslie Flower Show Fiasco; The Music Hall at the Arts Centre; the obscene pay raises to the Town Clerk (he made more than Obama); the under-insured city-owned buildings. These are just a few of the more notable disasters of leadership that happened under the Parker-Marryatt watch.

The elected councillors were divided by Parker-Marryatt into either “Loyalists” (Button, Keown, Wells, Corbett, Gough, Reid and Buck) or “Exiles” (Johanson, Livingstone, Carter, Beck and Chen). For some reason Helen Broughton made neither team, possibly due to her erratic and completely irrational voting habits.

Seeing the writing on the wall with the demise of the Parker-Marryatt dance team some Loyalists hit the bailout button (Wells, Corbett, Buck). Unfortunately, two excellent councillors also pulled the political plug – Carter and Beck. Both men will be missed as they were always well prepared, worked hard and could be relied upon to see the big picture.

Incapable of noticing much, including the sea change in the city that will demand forward-thinking councillors who authentically care about residents, Button, Keown, Reid and Gough will run again surrounded by the toxic fog of their own ideologies.

Among them, Keown is a stand-out for taking advantage of New Zealand being the only English-speaking country to allow a person to run for more than one office at a time and, if elected, allowed to serve on all of them and be paid for all of them. Keown is a city councillor and on the Health Board; his attendance on the Health Board is 60% and I’ve yet to hear a positive word about his performance in either position.

The only thing I can say about Button (aka as Parker’s pit bull), is that there appears to be a forest of fingers hovering above her personal Eject Button. Come to think of it, ‘Eject Button’ is the perfect clarion call following her dismal performance as deputy mayor.

When you vote you need to be extremely careful to ‘inspect not expect’ the voting records of incumbents and you need to research the background and achievements of newcomers. Why? Because this city urgently needs the best and the brightest if we are to achieve the future we deserve.

* Closer to the election It’s Our City will make recommendations for City Council and the Mayor. Be sure to visit this website again in October.

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