ADVICE TO CANDIDATES
AS a resident of 36 years (that’s a lot of rates!), I offer some advice to candidates on the finer points of your responsibilities if elected. You won’t find these in any handbook for councillors but you can be sure this is what your residents expect when we elect you into office and pay for you to be there.
When you read the Local Government Act, know it is there to protect both yourself and us. You will find a section dealing with voting and declaring an interest. It is not rocket science and you won’t need to take ‘advice’ from any source if you use the pub test, which is if you stand to gain anything from participating in a debate/vote, just don’t. Leave the room. It’s a no-brainer.
If you decide to consult with your community through a survey, be aware that those participating expect you to adhere to the results. If you dismiss these findings then you have just wasted their time, your time, staff time and, importantly, our money.
Want to know what your constituents really think on an important issue? Then be brave and run a proper referendum. Do it to coincide with sending out election voting papers and it will cost very little to know what we think. If you disagree then rethink, as you may be in the wrong job.
Note that electors’ meetings can be instigated by residents when they feel they are being ignored. They are an alarm bell for unrest and a heads-up that we are dissatisfied. Treat these meetings seriously. We do. And it’s your job to listen up, not dictate. Remember, we pay the bills. If we get really stroppy and stop paying rates en masse, your council will collapse. It’s people power.
Don’t ignore the voting at electors’ meetings or do so at your peril, as we will punish you at the ballot box. You are not there to know better but to hear us. If you don’t like what we are saying, then you need to convince us otherwise. If you can’t, then you are not up to the job.
The saying goes ‘A councillor’s lot is not a happy one’, but if you are serious about representing us and wish to make a genuine contribution to our community, we will respect you and support you in all you do, but only if you obey these basic rules.