Turnout raises hopes for elections

By Jordan Bond

Wayne Jack, CEO, Napier City Council.
Wayne Jack, CEO, Napier City Council.

A strong showing in the Hawke's Bay council amalgamation vote has raised hopes for a big turnout at this year's local authority elections.

In six months' time, Hawke's Bay residents will vote in the three-yearly elections to decide local mayors, councillors, and board members.

More than 63 per cent of residents voted in the amalgamation process last year, and Napier City Council's chief executive said he hoped these numbers would carry over to the October 8 vote.

"Obviously when you put an issue to people that they're passionate about, they turn out and vote for it," Wayne Jack said.

Napier and Hastings voter turnouts for the 2013 local elections were 48 and 45 per cent respectively - both higher than the 41 per cent national average. More than 55 per cent of Central Hawke's Bay residents voted, and 62 per cent of Wairoa - the second highest rate in the country.

Mr Jack said the amalgamation vote showed residents across the Bay were passionate about the direction the region is heading. He said, as with many cities, facilities and infrastructure were likely to be talking points for candidates.

He said the management of growth and development in Napier and Hastings was also likely to be on the minds of voters due to rising house prices and a tourism boom.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has launched a campaign to encourage people to participate, and hopes to lift turnout to above 50 per cent - which hasn't been done since 1998.

Hastings mayor and LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said the Vote 16 target is a "stretch", but he hoped the campaign could convince people to take part in shaping their community. Eight councils had applied to offer online voting, and although Mr Yule said similar trials hadn't improved turnout, it was about "future proofing".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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