“A surprisingly slow start” is how Hamilton City Council Chief Executive Lance Vervoort describes voter turnout so far in the current local government elections, and one candidate feels the regional candidates have been “left out in the cold.”
Speaking out on behalf of the Waikato Regional Council Candidates, Bruce Clarkson (pictured) feels the regional candidates have not had an adequate opportunity to reach potential voters, being largely shut out of active participation at this stage of the election process.
Nearly all meetings have specified speaking opportunities for City Ward or Mayoral candidates only, with opportunities for regional council candidates few and far between and only if the meeting hosts consent. Going along to these meetings and networking at the afternoon tea while valuable is not the same as being able to actively participate. However, Bruce Clarkson recently had the chance to speak and respond to questions at the Glenview Community Centre.
“I am grateful to the Glenview Community Centre organisers for their flexible approach to allowing regional council candidates present to speak at the recent Hamilton West Ward and Mayoral candidate’s meeting. Most of the candidate’s meetings in Hamilton to date have been the domain of City Council candidates with little opportunity for the Hamilton constituency Waikato Regional Council candidates to get their views out there”.
“As a first-time candidate, I am struggling to understand how this scenario has arisen. It seems to have been standard practice for earlier election cycles too. The Hamilton City Council has done a great job collating and advertising community initiated meetings across the city on their website. But the significance of the Waikato Regional Council role seems to have become progressively lost from sight. This is a concerning gap that needs to be rectified before the next election cycle, as the voters and rate payers are not getting the opportunity they deserve to hear first-hand Hamilton constituency candidates’ views on major issues affecting the region or assess the candidate’s suitability”.
At this stage of the election, under half of the votes are in compared to this stage three years ago. Currently, 7.1% of Hamilton Kirikiriroa’s 110,183 registered voters have returned their voting papers.
At the same time, during the 2019 local government elections, 14.8% of Hamiltonians had had their say.
Moving forward, providing more opportunities for the Hamilton constituency Waikato Regional Council candidates to be more involved and actively speak at community events would ensure all candidates would have a fair chance of getting their voice out to the voters Clarkson believes.
“Surely there must be a way of providing a more coordinated approach for voters to hear from Hamilton candidates whichever council they are standing for?”.
Bruce Clarkson is a candidate standing for the Waikato Regional Council in the 2022 Local Body Elections.