City Council team tickets

Jules Radich
Jules Radich
It seems bizarre at first glance. Why would two of the initial three “Team Dunedin” members stand against each other for the city mayoralty?

The grouping has begun with three councillors; Jules Radich, Carmen Houlahan and Andrew Whiley. Cr Radich is to stand as mayor for the council elections next year and Cr Whiley is backing him. Cr Houlahan joined the group on the condition she, too, could compete for the top job.

Dunedin has before included a loose grouping of councillors under one banner. Several candidates combined in the Greater Dunedin group in the previous decade.

Their success in 2013 was impressive; Dave Cull, Chris Staynes, Richard Thomson, Kate Wilson, Jinty MacTavish and Mike Lord. Mr Cull described it as a “tolerant” group and Cr Thomson said the group had included “decent people” with diverse views.

They did not vote as a pack, although Cr Lord could be seen as not of the “progressive” ilk of the others.

By February 2016, the grouping had run its course. Cr Lord, in particular, found himself at odds with the others.

What then of the just-announced Team Dunedin?

Carmen Houlahan
Carmen Houlahan
Cr Radich, the instigator, sees the council backing a one-way George St as a catalyst. He said what was best for the city had sometimes been lost while the needs of particular interest groups held sway.

Underlying this is the division between the Green and left-of-centre elements in the council and the others. Often, there are sufficient councillors to win the day on more social spending and on a less car and parking friendly central city.

While the dynamics alter vote-by-vote, Team Dunedin candidates are unlikely to be Green or Labour Party members. Although they would have scope for differences — like Greater Dunedin — it would appear to be more oriented to the centre or centre-right.

It could turn out to be like the loosely aligned members of the Citizens’ Association. It dominated much of Dunedin City politics in the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s.

Despite Dunedin being a Labour voting city in national elections, Citizens’ candidates were more commonly preferred ahead of those under the Labour banner. The most notable was mayor Sir Jim Barnes, who was also a one-term National MP.

Cr Radich said the group he was co-ordinating would not be controlled by a political party and it wanted "genuine consultation and active listening".

Such comments are to be expected from any such group. They have parallels with the comments from Jon Visser, who this year established a Dunedin Area Residents’ Association.

It will be intriguing to see how Cr Radich’s team relates to Mr Visser’s group if the association achieves traction.

Councillors bring their political outlooks to the council table. That is who they are, and they become part of what is a political forum whether they like it or not.

It is, therefore, important for voters to know where councillors are coming from. If they favour a Green council or one with a Labour flavour they can vote for the likes of Mayor Aaron Hawkins, Green Party member Marie Laufiso, former Labour Cabinet minister David Benson-Pope or Labour Party member Steve Walker.

Crs Whiley and Lord (both National Party members) and a businessman like Doug Hall come from different backgrounds and have overall different outlooks, albeit there is consensus on some issues.

Team Dunedin will try to avoid being pigeon-holed and the three candidates already differ in views. But an understanding of the team’s tenor will be useful to its chances and for voter clarity.

The fact two will stand for mayor is not necessarily a drawback. It shows team members will not project one view. And thanks to the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, Crs Radich and Houlahan will not split any Team Dunedin vote.

Comments

Let's hope Lee steps up to endorse Jules for mayor and is awarded some intetesting committee roles and the current mayor and his enforcer is sent packing.

STV doesn't work. Look at what we got from it during the last election! Dump the whole lot of them! Totally worthless!

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