Ah, elections. Once upon a time I couldn't wait for them: the thrust of red versus blue, the cut of one wannabe's jibe over another's, the tit-for-tats over sacred cows in quest of a comfy council seat.
But these days, what with the ruling neoliberalists driving us all over the cliff to extinction, there seems little point in getting excited choosing between every Sandra and Damon as to who might take charge of the town clock.
Sorry, that should have read town clerk – more grandiosely referred to now as a CEO – though whether any mayor or council can be said to retain any real control over what their bureaucrats do is moot.
Still, one must observe the forms, eh? So we go through the motions of electing a new lot of smiling heads every three years, and call it democracy. And then retire to the televised rugby with a cuppa, and think ourselves well served.
I must be getting old to be so disenchanted.
But that's how easy it is to think local body elections do not matter, or that your vote makes no difference, especially when a whole term can go by without half the elected members on any council – and yes, Hastings does spring to mind – uttering a peep in public about anything.
Okay, maybe one peep, to be fair; but on something so innocuous no one remembers the subject even a week later.
And I'd have to say that pretty much sums up the Havvers crowd, who since sneakily doing away with their own ward and its two-councillor restriction, have come to dominate the combined Hastings ward six (or is it seven?) to two.
Certainly seven counting the incumbent mayor. She at least does have to speak sometimes, though that's usually only to calmly reassure us any problems are nothing to be concerned about, so please return to the rugby, and here's a biscuit to go with your tea.
Mind you, that dominance owes as much to the apathy of your average Hastings voter (or non-voter) as it does any cunning Havelock North takeover plan. By population, the ratio of councillors-by-area-of-residence should of course be the other way around.
The point of this observation is to show how wealth and influence rule when it comes to who voters choose to elect. Even poorer people tend to choose conservative well-heeled candidates because they think those "successful" folk must have their best interests at heart.
How's that working out for the planet, then? Hmmmm.
Oh, don't just take my word for it. There's an excellent analysis of the last election by Local Government NZ which shows those who vote are mostly European New Zealanders, older, male, living in couple or single-only households, are ratepayers (rather than renters) and have lived at the same address for 10 years or more.
And while wealth as such was not surveyed, that profiling suggests the more well-off among us are the "average" voter.
Unsurprising then to find most elected councillors are white, male, and over 50. Gender balance is improving, as (slowly) is diversity, but still Hastings is currently one of only two councils in the country with a mayor and deputy who are women – something to celebrate, at least.
But the young (under 38 – which is half the population) and those of other ethnicities are least represented. Which is also unsurprising given those groups are least likely to vote.
So as a broad-brush approach to this election, may I suggest we all try to find younger, more diverse candidates we can support, and start to re-make democracy as representative and relevant as we can.
Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.