Local Government Magazine
Elizabeth HughesLocal Democracy

A quiz for council prospects

Welcome to election year [2022] and here’s a quiz for anyone thinking of standing. By Elizabeth Hughes.
It really doesn’t seem that long ago that the last local government elections were held. This is probably because the past two years have been dominated by the pandemic and time seems to inhabit a different dimension when you’re either locked down, in the red zone or living in an alternative universe.

And the last election happened just three months before Covid did.

Working from home, back-to-back Teams or Zoom meetings and limited contact with colleagues and constituents was the norm for most elected members and council workers in 2020 and 2021. And when you work for an institution that is built on a need for public participation and communication – working in this way was particularly challenging.

One of the hardest things for councils was trying to run community engagement or consultation sessions while navigating alert levels/traffic lights, masks, cleanliness of venues, spacing of people, vaccination status and the “you can’t stop me being here – this is a democracy” brigade. And while this meant councils were perhaps more innovative using the tools of technology for engagement and consultation, no matter how hard you tried, this still left some people not able to contribute due to either lack of ability or access to those tools.

Still – we made it to 2022 and election year.

And it’s usually about this time that the contenders for election start to reveal their hands. And I was wondering over the summer – whether a checklist might be a good idea for wannabe elected members who are thinking of standing.

So here is a brief 20 questions quiz to check your readiness …

Why do I want to stand for council?

  • I care about rates being too high
  • I care about the future
  • I care about making our community great again
  • I care about roads and infrastructure (or, I am a retired engineer)

Councils should:

  • Stick to the five Rs – roads, rubbish, reticulation, recreation and rats
  • Be run like a business
  • Focus on the future as well as today
  • Employ fewer planners

With regard to my council’s LTP:

  • I have read it
  • I submitted to it
  • I read the bits that matter to me and put sticky notes on those pages
  • what is an LTP?

Anyone elected to council for the first time should:

  • Be kind to everyone they meet
  • Shut up for the first six months
  • Get to sit in the Mayor’s chair
  • Get governance training

Mayors’ and councillors’ only real responsibilities are to those people that voted them in:

  • True/false

My view about engagement with the community is:

  • It’s okay as long as we give more weight to what ratepayers say than renters
  • being open to different views is core business
  • We were elected to make decisions so we should not need to listen to anyone else
  • it doesn’t really change anything

My view on the Treaty of Waitangi and local government is:

  • The Treaty is a central government issue so nothing to do with us
  • It means we have a Maori representative sitting at the council table
  • Treating one group as special is not right
  • We should be ‘partners’ in matters of local decision-making
  • It’s an historic relic not relevant to the 21st century

The biggest collective challenge facing local government is:

  • Getting more people to vote
  • Funding
  • Centralisation of assets and their management
  • Amalgamation

The most significant challenge facing New Zealanders that local government must focus on is:

  • Climate change
  • Roading
  • Covid 
  • A change in government

Central government should stay out of local government’s business:

  • Yes/No

Central government should keep funding about 30 percent of what councils do:

  • Yes/No

If I get elected my priority will be to:

  • Cap rates for the next three years
  • Start writing a blog/column in the local newspaper
  • Find out what allowances there are
  • Understand my role

All councillors should:

  • Have experienced being welcomed onto a marae and/or a place of cultural difference
  • Be an active library member
  • Have been part of a local success story (business, community, environmental, social)
  • Have a dog and know how to drive a digger

The most important role of a councillor is to:

  • Save money
  • Be seen out and about
  • Get the consents team working more efficiently
  • Contribute to collective decision-making

Different types of councils – pick the odd one out:

  • Unitary
  • District
  • City
  • Regional
  • Territorial

Civil defence is:

  • How central government manages local government disasters
  • Something the territorials do
  • Better than no defence
  • Another name for emergency management

The three waters reform is about:

  • Saving our waterways from pollution
  • A government grab of local government assets
  • A change in funding for future waters infrastructure
  • A sneaky way to get fluoride in our water

Community boards are:

  • Something all councils have
  • Where the most important decisions get made
  • A place to practice being a real councillor
  • A form of localism

Other people say I will get elected because:

  • I have run a business and I know about money
  • I am a real fanatic about [whatever the issue is]
  • I belong to many different groups
  • I am confident and people always listen to me

I will know it’s time to retire and let someone else have a turn when:

  • They run cartoons of me in the newspaper
  • My voting is totally predictable
  • I don’t need to take advice because I know best
  • The rest of the candidates clearly would not be as representative as I am

As with most surveys of this type, there are no right answers – it is up to the individual to respond how they see fit. So please do feel free to share with anyone in your community who is looking to put their hand up. And may democracy deliver the best candidates to our communities in October.

Related posts

A bit of a festive stretch

Jonathan Whittaker

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn

LG Magazine

Should I stay or should I go?

Contrafed Publishing