Lessons in local body politics

Prospective Dunedin council candidates got a quick lesson in the devious ways of local body politics and a stern warning about procrastination last night.

About 30 people turned out to an information evening at the Municipal Chambers to learn how to negotiate the serious undertaking of electioneering.

They heard they needed to follow all the rules on giveaways, and what sort of promises they made while they were on the hustings.

Electoral officer Pam Jordan told them there would be plenty of eyes watching their every move, and people pouncing on their mistakes, not necessarily electoral officials.

"It's usually other candidates or people working on their behalf who dob them in,'' she said.

Dunedin electors might also have some cause for concern about the tardiness of candidates in the past.

The prospective candidates heard between 10% and 20% left handing in their nomination until the last morning, and 50% to 70% left it until the last week.

Ms Jordan said there would be no leeway when it came to getting nominations in before the noon deadline on Friday, August 12.

Deputy electoral officer Sandy Graham told the potential candidates anyone successful in their quest to become a Dunedin city councillor would make decisions on an operating budget of about $250million.

Their decisions would affect many aspects of the lives of those living in about 54,000 properties across the city.

There were questions during the meeting about the length of council reports, which one attendee said included unnecessary repetition.

Ms Graham responded the council took that matter seriously, but it was a balancing act between providing all necessary information, and keeping reports concise.

She said there would be plenty of reading involved for successful candidates.

Otago Regional Council chief executive Peter Bodeker ran through the major areas of his organisation's responsibility, from water and air quality, to public transport. He said ORC reports, could be up to 150 pages.

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