Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Advice for election candidates

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Howick Local Board chairperson Adele White, centre, and deputy chair John Spiller, second from right, with their board colleagues. Photo supplied

People who get elected onto the Howick Local Board need to know their way around a laptop computer, be open-minded and a good listener, and have enough time available to do the job properly.

That’s among the advice being given to candidates in the Auckland Council elections scheduled for October by board chairperson Adele White and deputy chair John Spiller.

White says candidates need to know that board members’ key tasks include providing local leadership and developing relationships in the community.

“We have a civic role in attending functions and events and we can be asked to give guidance in community decision-making.

“We provide input into council controlled-organisation plans and initiatives, give them feedback and we monitor and report on implementation of local board agreements.

“The board decides how various purses of money, such as our transport capital fund, are spent, so there’s a chance to bring issues of concern to the table and prioritise and discuss those.”

She says new board members should bring an open mind to the role.

And they need to know their way around a laptop as much of the board’s business, especially in recent years due to Covid-19, is done online using various platforms.

“It’s not a part-time job. People need to be available most of the time.

“Even though we only have one three-hour workshop a week on a Thursday, and a business meeting once a month, currently on a Monday evening, there’s still a need to attend other meetings in between.

“We expect 20 hours per week from members.

“This can be more or less, often with weekend events to attend.”

White says the job entails a lot of reading and she recommends candidates go through a board business meeting agenda to see what it covers.

“I believe everyone has something to bring to a team like this.

“It’s wonderful if we can attract people from different nationalities and neighbourhoods to bring their views to our democratic decision making.”

Spiller says being a board member is a “serious commitment” and candidates need to understand it’s not a hobby or part-time job.

“It’s something you have to commit to, and be prepared to put in the work and the hours to serve your community.

“People need to understand the potential time commitment and the fact a lot of that time would be during the week when they would otherwise be working in a 9-5 job if that’s the sort of situation they’re in.”

He says people elected to the board should debate issues with their colleagues with an open mind and be ready to listen to other views.

Board members need to be tolerant and respectful of other people’s opinions, he says.

“We receive recommendations from council officers and advice from staff and we weigh that all up before we form an opinion.

“Often that may not be something you agree with personally.

“We have to do our best to remain impartial and weigh up the evidence and make a decision for the greater good.

“That’s not always easy for people, particularly if they’ve got their own preferences or agenda.”

The council elections will be held by postal vote on October 8.

Go online to www.voteauckland.co.nz for more information and to enrol to vote.

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