by Geoffrey Churchman
This year’s council election was different from previous ones in two important regards:
- The Jacinda government muscling in with its centralisation plans, taking substantial assets and decision making off councils
- Ms Boucher’s Stuffers doing hit jobs on libertarian candidates who they thought as well as being opponents of the Jacinda government’s attacks on civil rights, would likely also be opponents of its local government plans.
In 2019 our stance was that nationwide political affiliations were all but irrelevant locally as ideology plays little part when it comes to decisions on big (and smaller) ticket items needed to meet the needs of the people such as parks, reserves, streets, important buildings like halls, recreational facilities, libraries and public landscaping. The necessary attributes of candidates are the right attitudes, astuteness, people skills and genuine interest in what is good for all constituents. That was the approach we took with endorsements this time too, but ideology had to play a part for the reasons mentioned.
Turnout in Kapiti this time was 45%; the highest was in Waikanae at 51%.
The good news
The big win for Kapiti is the success of Nigel Wilson in the Waikanae ward. He is certain to take all the steps he can to eliminate squandering by management including on wasteful wokeism, end the manipulation that was the feature of the Guru+Holborow years to get the things they wanted, end the secrecy, and make abundantly clear to the CEO which staff members/contractors are a liability to the council and should be given their marching orders.
Almost as important are wins by Liz Koh (district-wide councilor) and Glen Cooper (Paraparaumu ward councilor) who wont stand for any nonsense. We don’t know much about what the other newbies — Shelley Warwick, Lawrence Kirby and Rob Kofoed will be like. We like Kathy Spiers (Paraparaumu) on a personal level, but the minus is that she was a supporter of Guru and his Gateway. She replaces Bernie Randall who although he sought reelection, wasn’t keen to be back at the council table given the stress caused by the way Guru, Holborow and Maxwell treated him over the last 3 years
The bad news
This is Janet Holborow’s narrow victory in the mayoral race over Rob McCann. There will be no recount as the gap between 2 candidates needs to be only in single digits for one to be accepted by the District Court which approves one or otherwise.
Why did she win, even if it was only with less than 30% of first preference votes? The endorsement of former mayor Jenny Rowan may have helped (although it equally might have turned potential voters off) as did the assistance given her by the Labour Party machine which among other things, hand-delivered personalised letters over the weekend of 24-25 September. But as usual, the biggest blame must lie with undiscerning casual voters who just read the 150 words in the official booklet and saw the billboard photo, unaware of what has gone on away from the public view.
Not only new electees but media people, including FB admins, are apprehensive about what’s to come given her reputation for being the aggressive ‘Karen’ of Kapiti. Just as important — what payback is the Labour Party going to expect in return for their help — regular media releases and appearances supporting Jacinda government policies?
Another big disappointment is the reelection of Penny Gaylor as the Kapiti seat holder on the GWRC. Opponent Asher Goldman-Wilson had the right policies, was endorsed by rail campaigner Gwynn Compton (and ourselves) and campaigned hard. Her being back again is both disappointing and mysterious. The practical advice we have for readers if they have any matters requiring regional council involvement, is to deal direct with GWRC staffers and ignore Gaylor.
The big campaign issue of the Guru Gateway is a dead duck, in its present form at least. The only supporters it has at the council table now are Holborow, Sophie Handford and Kathy Spiers.
The new Waikanae library will likely now see some action, although whether it is in place by 2025 remains to be seen.