Bill Dalton's unchallenged return as Napier mayor a 'travesty' says academic

By Patrick O'Sullivan

4 comments
Bill Dalton.
Bill Dalton.

Bill Dalton's unchallenged return to the Napier mayoralty is a "travesty", local government academic Dr Andy Asquith says.

A challenger would have made Mr Dalton "get off his backside and earn the right to be mayor for three years," the Massey University senior lecturer said.

"The good people of Napier need to have a good, hard look at themselves," he said.

An unopposed mayoralty race contributed to the traditional low voter turnout in local government elections, he said.

"The one election in any local body that people can get excited/enthused about and likely to vote is a mayoral election."

Napier's election of its first Maori councillor, Apiata Tapine, was welcome relief from the typical councillor profile of "male, pale and stale", Dr Asquith said.

"All we have to do is look around our communities and we find we are incredibly ethnically diverse and we should celebrate this.

"When we have male, pale and stale councils, it doesn't reflect society, which is one of the reasons people don't vote.

"People look at council and don't see a demographic they identify with."

Lawrence Yule's re-election as Hastings mayor "is something Hastings should be thankful for", Dr Asquith said.

"He is a successful mayor and the issue of the drinking water in Havelock North was something that people could have been short-sighted about and thrown out the baby with the bathwater."

National politicians could learn a lot from the way Mr Yule conducted himself, he said.

"He was accessible and open. He could have quite easily followed the lead of somebody like Nick Smith or Paula Bennett and just go to ground, but he didn't, he led from the front."

Dr Asquith wondered if there would be "fallout" after a green shift in the Hawke's Bay Regional Council elections, where former Green Party candidate in the parliamentary elections, Paul Bailey, was elected to council.

"It will be very interesting to see how the chief executive manages this. I understand the chief executive of the regional council has been working full time on the dam stuff and hasn't been minding the shop, as such.

"He might find his attention is focused on to trying to sort his council out."

He said many candidates in the Auckland council elections gave "rubbish" similar outlines of what they stood for in candidate booklets for voters, but if candidates were aligned to a political party they had a better chance of being elected.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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