24 Hours out from the close of nominations for the local government elections, the media laments the “lack of a decent election ” ” the lack of a decent fight” some journalists have even shrieked that the election may even be “invalid” because of the lack of a good mayoral scrap.
I really challenge that view. Are our media pushing this point because a good scrap is what sells newspapers or fills radio spots ? Is it just about the personalities now? Have we become so addicted to sound bites and tweet sized stories that we are unable to process the bigger issues? I don’t think so, I credit our community with a lot more than that.
Local government has not traditionally been a hotbed of national media but good local media scrutiny is pretty healthy.
So barring a superstar throwing their hat in the ring tomorrow, what will it take to keep the election coverage alive and the community engaged?
After watching the debate on TV 3 tonight with the rest of the country telling us that Auckland is sucking the life out of the rest of New Zealand I also wonder what it will take to get the debate onto a credible level.
Over the next 2 months candidates have to engage with the communities they want to represent and identify the key issues facing them, and tell people what they plan to do about it. The community will then make up their mind wether that is what they want, and vote accordingly. How boring democracy in action can be!
So do we need a “clash of the Titans” to get Aucklanders engaged or can we have a clash of the “Titan” issues to get people excited?
-Make growth work for Auckland and NZ inc or send everyone to Fielding?
-$12 billion on transport or cut the roading component and get this figure down?
-Bite the bullet and start building affordable housing right now?
-These issues are vital to the future of Auckland and should be the focus for the debate.
This is also not just a Mayoral debate, all council candidates must be involved in ownership of these vital issues. The mayor is only one vote and the coverage needs to ensure that the wider field of councillor candidates are canvased to ensure that Aucklanders get a good look at who the are electing as a council. Powerful as the mayor is, he is still only one vote.
So a newsreader/sportsperson /business mogul may come forward tomorrow, but I don’t believe that will make the election more democratic, it may sell a few more papers but it will not necessarily make for a decent and democratic debate.
Hopefully our community will continue to challenge, deepen the debate and inform each other so that all of us who put our name forward as candidates are pushed to do more than trade on our name recognition or money.