There’s been a number of people who have only recently been elected to local body councils talking about putting themselves forward to stand in the general election.
Apart from the cost any by-elections will impose on the councils, this shows either a shoddy lack of commitment to a three year term they sought from voters less than half a year ago, or a cynical using of their positions as a stepping stone to national politics.
here are some I have heard of just over the last couple of weeks.
Maungakiekie-Tamaki Councillor Denise Lee hopes to bag a National Party nomination and replace outgoing Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-liga when he retires later this year.
Lotu-liga announced in December he would not be seeking re-election of the Auckland seat prompting Lee to jump at the opportunity.
She was re-elected as Maungakiekie-Tamaki Councillor last year after securing the majority of votes.
“When you get selected twice as councillor, and the last time with the majority of votes, it is a good sign that you’re a good representative to serve the people well,” Lee said.
A good representative doesn’t jump off their three year council gig after a few months just because of political opportunism.
On Friday he announced he was planning to seek the National Party’s nomination for the Tukituki electorate, after 15 years as mayor or Hastings.
A large number of locals, along with members of the National Party had encouraged him to run, he said.
“I did not expect Craig Foss to resign, now I have to deal with that opportunity. I have been pretty humbled by the number of people who have approached me to stand. I think I can make a difference in Wellington, for the people of Tukituki, and for the National Party,” he said.
Deal with an opportunity for himself and stuff the people who voted him as mayor, and will have to fund his ship jumping if he succeeds.
Less than three months after becoming Wellington’s deputy mayor, Paul Eagle is eyeing up a seat in Parliament.
Eagle said he was considering calls from Labour Party members to contest Rongotai, the Wellington electorate seat long held by the party’s deputy leader, Annette King.
If he did contest Rongotai, he would stay on as deputy mayor – though he may drop some portfolios – but said there would be “a resignation immediately” if he won the seat.
So he would ditch some of his council responsibilities to suit his own ambitions, essentially using his deputy mayor salary to tide himself through a national election campaign and only resign if how won the seat.
How convenient for him – and inconvenient and expensive for his council.
And there’s two Green councillors here: Nelson byelection could be parting gift from councillors bound for Beehive
An $80,000 byelection could be on the cards for Nelson if two city councillors buzz off to the Beehive.
Second-term councillor Matt Lawrey is the Green Party candidate for Nelson in this year’s general election, while third-term councillor Kate Fulton is still waiting to hear if she’ll win her bid for the West Coast-Tasman candidacy.
If either win the electoral seats, or are placed in Parliament as Green Party List MPs, Nelson City Council will foot the bill for an $80,000 by-election.
So Lawrey is already committed to being a part time councillor, part time general election campaigner.
Councillor Matt Lawrey said it might be time to revisit the legislation that governs how city councillors are replaced.
“[It] does raise questions, and maybe it’s time we looked at changing the system so in the event of a councillor dying or having to leave the role, the next highest polling candidate gets a seat at the table,” Lawrey said.
“That would certainly be a cheaper and more efficient way of doing things.”
But Lawrey is not “having to leave the role”, he is trying to switch jobs mid term because it suits him. A cheaper way of replacing councillors might help him justify his lack of commitment, but it’s not good practice.
But Chief Electoral Officer at electionz.com Warwick Lampp said the legislation ensured fair process in cases where the next highest polling candidate received significantly fewer votes than the winning candidate.
“I think you could legitimately argue that the community didn’t want that person and then they’ve [been given] them… It has to go back to the democratic function with a completely new election, where anyone can stand,” Lampp said.
The highest polling failed candidate could have got hardly any votes.
And it’s not very fair on candidates who put time and money into standing in the local body elections and just miss out for successful candidates to desert at their convenience.
Are there any others who have announced their wish to desert their elected position just a few months in to a three year term?