Mayoral Profile: Scout Barbour-Evans

Candidate Scout Barbour-Evans wants a younger voice in Dunedin local body politics. Photo by Christine O'Connor.
Candidate Scout Barbour-Evans wants a younger voice in Dunedin local body politics. Photo by Christine O'Connor.
What do you know about the 11 candidates who are contesting the 2016 mayoral election? David Loughrey puts the questions to Scout Barbour-Evans.

At 21 years of age, Scout Barbour-Evans is by far the youngest mayoral candidate, but says a five-year history of activism has provided the relevant experience for a job on the council.

Looking after the environment and those who are struggling are two issues important to the Dunedin student, who is clear the attempt at the mayoralty is tactical rather than realistic, but says election to the council would still be a win.

Public transport and food wastage are other areas of interest for the first-time candidate who says students need representation in local government.

Why are you standing?

To be perfectly honest, I decided to stand for mayor because it would cut back on my advertising budget by a few hundred dollars, given I had a $200 budget.

Otherwise, I've chosen to stand for city council because there are no students on city council at present. There's no representation for a quarter of Dunedin's population, and I don't think that's good enough.

I feel I can be a good person to represent the student population in Dunedin.

Why should people vote for you?

People should vote for me because of my policies. They should vote for me because they like the things that I stand for. I don't want people to vote for me if they don't want to.

I have policy that's built around looking after everyone in Dunedin, looking after people who are struggling, as well as looking after the people who are doing kind of OK but need services maintained, and looking after our future, as well.

What relevant experience do you have?

I've been an activist for a really long time - for the last five or so years - in Dunedin and in Brisbane. People approach me with issues they're experiencing, so if someone's having trouble with a particular part of the city, or a particular part of something that is happening in central Government, they tend to approach me, and ask for my advice on what they can do about it. Activism is a bit different to being on council but, inherently, people will be approaching me with issues, and I'll be in probably a bit more of a position to do something about them.

What do you see as the major issues?

I care a lot about South Dunedin and I care a lot about other parts of Dunedin that will also be affected by climate change. I think we need to future-proof most of the city.

The bus services are a massive issue at the moment, so I would like to see the city council taking over the bus services from the [Otago] regional council.

I'm working on policy that would help our low income families. Ideally, I'm looking into ways the city council might be able to fund community groups that are already offering help to some of the people in our city that are struggling.

I'm looking at ways to change bylaws so supermarkets aren't allowed to waste so much food, because we've got community organisations that do collect food and distribute it, but not every supermarket is properly taking advantage of that, because they don't have to do it.

How would you deal with South Dunedin issues of flooding and climate change?

I think we need to continue the efforts that have already been started to complete inquiries into what can be done.

We need to make full use of the university we have sitting right there, make full use of all the students as well as the post-grad people who are working there, and just do a full needs assessment on how we can solve this problem.

I don't have all the answers, neither do the other candidates. There's a lot of needing to listen to the professionals here.

What is Dunedin doing badly?

I was talking to someone this morning about how we really have a lot of great heritage here in Dunedin. We're really good at honouring that heritage, but there's not a lot of heritage from the pre-colonial days.

It would be really awesome to bring some of that. We could talk more about the people who were brought down here from Parihaka, stuff like that.

What is Dunedin doing well?

We have a lot of technological innovation in the city at the moment. Gigatown has managed to bring a lot of that into Dunedin, and I think we need to continue that, and expand on that, because we could become a little Silicon Valley.

What is your vision for the city?

I would like the city to be clean and green and sustainable moving into the future. We aren't going to keep this city much longer if we aren't sustainable about our resources now.

I think I would be a good person to have in this role because I'm going to have to live with those decisions we make. Other people don't necessarily have to live that far into the future. That sounds harsh.

Who did you vote for at last national election, and how would you describe your politics?

In the Dunedin South electorate, I voted Greens for the party vote, and [Labour MP] Clare Curran.

How are you going about your campaigning and fundraising?

Campaigning depends on the opportunities I get and the money people donate. I sank $400 into registration, and have spent about $150 more after that, which has gone into things like maintaining a website and paying for Facebook ads.

Have you attended council meetings?

I have not, not yet. I'm very busy at the moment, and it's always fallen at a time where I've been at polytech or had other commitments.

Are you serious about your candidacy, considering you are not on the council and have little name recognition?

If I'm not elected mayor but I get a seat on the council, that's still a win.

You have been open about being transgender. Do you think Dunedin is ready for someone who is transgender to step into one of these roles?

I think Dunedin might be psyching themselves out a bit, actually. I don't think I'm any different as a candidate than any other candidates other than my age and slightly smaller degree of very valuable life experience that I've had.

People are focusing a lot on my gender, which is a bit weird, but otherwise I don't think Dunedin has anything to worry about.

You've also been open about psychiatric problems you've had. Is that going to get in the way of you being on the council?

I don't think so. I'm in a really, really good place at the moment, and I have been since about July last year, other than some blips.

I just treat my mental illnesses like I would any physical illnesses that I have. Obviously there will be some days that are up, and some days that are down, and that's going to be a reality for the rest of my life.

It doesn't mean I'm any less capable of all the things that I'm doing.


Vote Scout. Liked everywhere apart from an Auckland right wing blog, this person is famous.

No other candidate is.

What a great shame that Dunedin, 'psyching itself out', is not as upfront about mh problems. Sadly, when the majority loses it, that becomes the Norm. I shall vote for Scout, individualist despite their collectivist sympathies, and rational person.

Oh. I didnae realise 2 posts would go on. Now, I seem to be monomaniacal, er, Norm.

Self-confessed activists do not make good councilors or government representatives, as they seldom ever listen and if they do they don’t understand the others point or the real problem. Their ideas and policy are more about what they see as important and not what the voters want, their ideas tend cost a lot of money that should be put elsewhere and more often than not don’t work and have little or no bearing on the real world we live in.
With Scout's young age and the fact that she is a student, she lacks life experiences and life skills to be an effective leader or councilor. Top this off with her “psychiatric problems” - “I just treat my mental illnesses like I would any physical illnesses that I have. Obviously there will be some days that are up, and some days that are down, and that's going to be a reality for the rest of my life”. Having good days and bad days (“be some days that are up, and some days that are down”) just does not cut it.
Given time to grow and gain both life experience and skill, she may at some future time be a good candidate

There is no guessing what side of politics she supports. I've seen this all before.

Yes certain things in this city need attending to. but lets not go changing the city into a hipster utopia. Keep your almond milk lattes and chickpea burgers.

Students are too far left leaning to make any constructive decisions to suit the city. The 25% of the population you speak of are for the most part temporary residents - they finish up at uni and wander off. As far as the people of Dunedin are concerned, the issues that temporary residents have are not important to the lives of locals.