Top tips for getting to know local government candidates

Ballots will be sent out in the coming weeks.

It can be difficult to sift through all the different candidates vying for mayor or a seat around the council table, but there are a few things people can do to make it easier.

Chief Executive of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), Susan Freeman-Greene, said overall more people raised their hands to stand for election this year, compared to 2019.

“But we heard from many voters saying they didn’t feel like they knew enough about the candidates running,” she said.

“Local body elections typically have a low turnout of around 40% compared to central government elections which typically get a turnout of around 80%.”

Everyone registered to vote will receive their ballots within a few weeks.

Freeman-Greene said councils are attractive places for elected officials because, unlike central government, people don’t bring a team with them when elected.

“It is very common for mayors to have to work with councilors who have run against them or lead a council with differing views.”

It was important for people to do their own research on the people running to understand how they will work together, represent community views and what their political positions are, Freeman-Greene said.

LGNZ has put together a quick list of tips and tricks for getting to know candidates.

People should look for candidate statements on council websites. They are usually around 150 words and are often the ones that are sent out with the ballots.

Many candidates also drop printed brochures about themselves in a mailbox and have a strong social media presence.

People may already know the people running personally, especially in small rural communities, so it’s easy to strike up a conversation and find out more.

Alternatively, people can also keep an eye on council websites or social media pages to meet candidate events.

Questions are often drawn from the crowd during debates and it is possible to mix and mingle afterwards.

LGNZ Suggested Questions for Applicants:

• What do you think are the biggest challenges facing your community?

• If elected, what do you hope to accomplish by the end of your term?

• What do you see as the role of local government in shaping the future and success of our communities?

• Why are you organizing this election?

• In your opinion, what is your most important attribute that you consider an asset or a contribution around the board table?

• How do you plan to work with other board members – especially those who disagree with you?

• What do you think of the role of local and central government in Aotearoa? What could be improved?

• How would you lead your community through difficult times such as natural disasters?

• How will you connect with all parts of your community and ensure their voices are heard?