Do the home­work be­fore you vote

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - BY SOUTH WAIKATO MAYOR NEIL SIN­CLAIR

The lo­cal body elec­tions are well un­der­way and hope­fully all have now re­ceived their vot­ing pa­pers.

Lo­cal Body Elec­tion turnout has been de­clin­ing in many ar­eas of New Zealand since the 1980s.

Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New Zealand (LGNZ) hopes that voter num­bers will be above 50 per cent na­tion­ally for the first time since 1998.

It would be great if the South Waikato reached that level.

This elec­tion we have more can­di­dates than I can ever re­mem­ber.

That means we as vot­ers have to do our home­work.

Mr Yule, Pres­i­dent of LGNZ has said in or­der to im­prove these sta­tis­tics, the first step is to raise pub­lic aware­ness of the value of lo­cal gov­ern­ment and the role it plays in the ev­ery­day lives of New Zealan­ders.

‘‘Our aim is to grow cit­i­zens’ un­der­stand­ing of the breadth of ser­vices de­liv­ered each day by lo­cal govern­ments across New Zealand, and the im­pact those ser­vices have on their ev­ery­day lives.

‘‘By mak­ing that con­nec­tion, we hope it in­spires Ki­wis to take a more proac­tive stance on the is­sues they care about in their com­mu­ni­ties,’’ says Mr Yule.

Our lo­cal Coun­cil has more im­pact on your daily life than cen­tral gov­ern­ment has.

Wa­ter, sewage, foot­paths, rub­bish col­lec­tion, parks and re­serves, an­i­mal con­trol, lo­cal road­ing and of course mak­ing sure that our fi­nances are in or­der, while all the time keep­ing rates as low as pos­si­ble, but still go­ing for­ward - are all part of Coun­cil’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

Our Coun­cil has been putting a lot of ef­fort into eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and it is reap­ing re­wards like the Fon­terra de­vel­op­ment, the road/rail hub, Blue Pa­cific, Ur­ban con­nec­tor and still fight­ing to keep us from be­ing taken over by pos­si­ble amal­ga­ma­tion.

Coun­cil is a $30 mil­lion busi­ness with over $100 mil­lion in as­sets and about 140 staff; and the Coun­cil­lors you elect are ef­fec­tively the Board of Di­rec­tors.

They will be mak­ing pol­icy de­ci­sions and un­der the guid­ance of the Chief Ex­ec­u­tivem the staff carry out the poli­cies.

So as vot­ers it is our duty firstly to thank and re­spect all those who have fronted up to serve our Coun­cil; and then ex­am­ine, look be­yond the prom­ises and de­cide if that’s the per­son that will lead us for­ward.

‘‘Lo­cal gov­ern­ment in New Zealand faces ma­jor chal­lenges, from en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues to ma­jor in­fras­truc­ture re­place­ment, of­ten in the face of de­mo­graphic change.

‘‘We need to en­sure elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives have the abil­i­ties, train­ing and di­ver­sity of skills to rise to these chal­lenges,’’ says Mr Yule.

We owe it to our chil­dren to ex­am­ine all can­di­dates and then vote. It’s your chance to shape our fu­ture.

South Waikato Mayor Neil Sin­clair.

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