Council elections

The Local Body elections closed at midday yesterday and by last night, we had most of the results. Many of the mayors were re-elected – Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Hastings were just some of the towns where people voted to keep the previous mayor. Wellington and Auckland have a new mayor because the previous mayor did not stand for re-election. Wellington’s new mayor was the deputy-mayor in the previous council. Auckland is interesting because the new mayor, Phil Goff, is – at the moment – the Labour MP for Mt Roskill. He will resign from Parliament in the next few days and a by-election will be held probably in November.

It was disappointing, though, that only about 40% of people voted in this election. Sometimes it was not easy to decide who to vote for because it was impossible to know everybody who was standing for election. We had a booklet with information about each candidate and their relevant experience but no information about their character of course. Many young people showed very little interest in voting. Perhaps if we had on-line voting, more young people would vote. This year, it was a postal vote again.

Local councils are very important but most of their work is done quietly, behind the scenes. They are responsible for building permits, land zoning, local roads and transport, rubbish collection, community facilities like libraries, parks and swimming pools, and for how much we pay in rates.

Vocabulary

• stand (v) for election – this is an idiom meaning to become a candidate for election
• by-election (n) – not the main election; an election for just one seat in Parliament
• relevant (adj) – matters that are important, that we need to know
• behind the scenes – idiom meaning people don’t see this happening but it happens
• building permits (n) – licences to build a particular house or other building
• zoning (n) – different areas in a city are zoned for different activities e.g. industrial, commercial, residential zones
• rates (n) – property taxes

Questions

Here are two quotes from Winston Churchill about democracy:
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

What do you think they mean? You might like to discuss these quotes with a friend.






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