Super ward system of little concern

Councillors and former candidates spoken to yesterday said the proposed new super ward system for the Dunedin City Council would not change unduly the way they campaigned in local body elections.

Cr Fliss Butcher said she was unsure how the change would affect her chances at the election next year, but she expected many people would stand because of anger in the community about the stadium.

Campaigning could be more expensive, but "it depends on how you campaign".

Cr John Bezett said most councillors campaigned through the media, which was city-wide anyway, so he did not expect too much change to his campaign.

Few councillors he was aware of campaigned by door-knocking in their ward.

Lee Vandervis said the single transferable voting system (STV) had harmed his result, along with the ward system, and he supported getting rid of the city wards.

He was "definitely" considering standing in the next election, but his decision would depend on whether the ward system did change, and who else sought election.

Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler, who polled 282 votes in the Hills ward, supported the idea of one central ward, and said any extra expense for candidates was outweighed by the advantage of people being given the choice of voting for any candidate.

She was undecided on whether to stand in the next election.

Nicola Holman, who missed election to the Cargill ward by 30 votes, said the change could affect the accountability of councillors, with recent stadium meetings where councillors were called upon to explain their support for the project to voters an example of something that might not happen if the system changed.

Poorer candidates could be disadvantaged through lacking the money to promote themselves to the whole city.

Cr Colin Weatherall, who won the one-councillor Green Island-Saddle Hill ward, said he was not concerned about losing his ward, and being forced to run for the central ward.

"I don't want to put my view. I want the people to put theirs," Cr Weatherall said, although he was concerned about whether Green Island residents wanted to be part of "a very large" central ward.

Cr Richard Walls said it was possible political groupings could form in the larger pool of councillors, but said he felt that tactic was less popular with voters, who wanted their elected officials to answer to the electorate in an individual capacity.

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