Jill Nicholas: Old-fashioned tub-thumping's needed

By Jill Nicholas

1 comment
Rotorua District Council
Rotorua District Council

Local body election fever's raging in Rotorua? You've gotta be joking.

Judging by the minuscule number of completed ballot papers returned so far rigor mortis has set in.

And who's to blame - apathetic voters, or the 31 council candidates vying for us to give them the tick they crave?

My pick's the latter. What lacklustre campaigns the majority have waged.

With so little hard-core canvassing, I, like many voters, am hard-pressed to work myself into a feverish lather over their political aspirations.

And let me assure the "old hands" that my seal of approval won't necessarily include them.

However well known their names, have they not grasped that a great deal of what ails the city's occurred on their watch?

If another sitting councillor tells me they're standing because they've got unfinished business I'll demand a lifetime rates freeze.

On the topic of sitting councillors and with the greatest respect to my fellow columnist, Garth George, may I correct him on one point (Just Thinking, September 28).

By his reckoning, eight of those planning to pass the 2013 winning post are council incumbents.

Sorry, Garth, you've underestimated the present crop's determination to retain their positions of power. There are, in fact, 10. The figure would have been up one were it not for Maureen Waaka's untimely death.

She, too, had indicated she'd unfinished business. Doesn't this give credence to that old maxim that life itself is unfinished business?

As for the newbies, what do we know of them? Apart from a few B grade billboards, word-restricted media blurbs, sporadic newspaper ads, Facebook posts (by some) and the occasional letterbox flyer, what have they done to personalise their portfolios?

Yes, there have been a handful of meet-the-candidate forums organised by public-spirited organisations. I've attended three. But it takes far more than the allotted speaking time - three minutes generally - to pack a punch.

Fine that you support whatever it is you support, fine that your links with the district are long-standing or relatively recent, but what about you?

Without face-to-face contact how can voters assess your personality, your sincerity, your stickability ... above all your suitability to represent the district's best interests ahead of your own?

Bring back the good old days, I say ... not to wallow in the past, but to follow the fine example of those tub-thumping politicians who've gone before. The types who door-knocked, stumped the hustings, kissed babies and worked the streets, gladhanding every paw in sight.

They may have annoyed the hell out of you but you did get to see them in the flesh and what fun it was to engage them in a bit of verbal sparring.

Self-organised meetings were great for that - lots of interjections, heckling, hissing and booing. No one took offence, if they did they'd no right to be standing for office, but they did give candidates a public profile, something so conspicuously lacking in election 2013.

I raise self-organised meetings for a reason.

I'm betting I'm not the only one who's been asked by a candidate (you'll know who you are) to facilitate a meeting, or for an organisation I'm associated with to hold one on their behalf.

I'll repeat what I said then. "Why? It's your campaign."

Meetings don't have to pack out the Events Centre - think "when two or three are gathered in your name".

If you haven't the nous to do it yourself what right have you to expect to see your name in lights when the district's new leaders are revealed a week today?

- Rotorua Daily Post

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