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Dunedin’s Aaron Hawkins

Written By: - Date published: 9:37 am, October 13th, 2019 - 23 comments
Categories: climate change, elections, greens, local government, political parties, Politics - Tags:

Dunedin is going to be a very interesting test of politics and opportunity over this coming three years for this new mayor.

Actually winning the votes that won him election, was a very, very close run thing for him.

His main rival, the utterly toxic Lee Vandervis, was leading the race
to become Dunedin’s next mayor for much of the vote counting process.

Dunedin has the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, where voters rank their preferred candidates in order, and then have their votes redistributed to second or subsequent picks if their first choice is eliminated.

The results after each iteration of the counting process – as candidates dropped out one by one and voters’ preferences were recalculated – showed Cr Vandervis led for much of the race.

As the ODT notes, it was only when Cr Christine Garey (with 6905 votes) was eliminated in the 12th iteration, and votes for her were redistributed to subsequent preferences, that Mr Hawkins went ahead.

In the 13th iteration Cr Andrew Whiley dropped out and those votes broke unexpectedly to Mr Hawkins as well. Whew!

It will of course take all a while to digest the results and form a functioning Council, but Dunedin is a really important test case for this government because its structure is very similar to Auckland, and because of the number of big levers that are available over the next three years.

LIke Auckland, much of Dunedin Council’s business is run through CCOs. The extent and scale of the operations and assets you can see here.

It’s arguable that when things have gone wrong, such as with Aurora Energy and Delta Services six years ago, the governance structure has eventually worked and corrected it. There’s arguments the other way too.

Mayor Goff of Auckland has promised a review of Auckland’s own CCO structure, and this government will I expect be in a mood to assist since National and ACt brought them in. It would be worth Auckland reflecting with Dunedin and government on the extent of governance powers with CCOs and what reforms are any use.

Like Auckland, there are a feast of opportunities in the next three years to improve the city. They are opportunities with a lot of leverage within them for a smart council.

Dunedin rebuilding most of the downtown streets towards being pedestrian-and-cycle-and-retail friendly. It’s about $650m of investment and work into the city over multiple years.

Central government is putting over a billion dollars into rebuilding Dunedin hospital. That brings with it massive city centre revival opportunities with streetscapes, road direction and layout, SH1 alignment opportunities, building re-use, and more.

Central government is effectively re-nationalising its successful Otago Polytech, which has extensive land holdings. As one of the very few successful polytechs, there’s ample room across Council’s property arms to look at how all those assets are re-imagined and revived.

Dunedin is also considering a bold proposal to revive its waterfront with a development master plan.

We’ll have to see if Auckland’s waterfront can match that.

There is also work close to shovel-ready for a full shared path from the city to Port Chalmers. It’s mostly an NZTA job, but needs lots of community support to ease its way.

Auckland is not left-dominated in Council or in politics, unlike Dunedin. So the comparisons have real limits. Also, the loss of the Blueskin Bay wind electricity generator to appeals shows that even the most committed small-scale communities can’t go deep green without hitting real community limits. We can’t freight the new Dunedin Council with too much expectation, even with a climate crisis looming.

But the confluence in Dunedin of a Green-left Council with lots of opportunities to be an example for Auckland and for other councils, if they cooperate well with government and seize the opportunities they have.

With those horses running, it’s now Aaron Hawkins at the reins.

23 comments on “Dunedin’s Aaron Hawkins ”

  1. The Blueskin Bay wind generator would have been an eyesore, and I vote Green.

    Solar is the way to go-all new houses should have solar panels on their roofs as a rule in the District Plan and/or as a National Policy Statement.

    • John Clover 1.1

      To go Solar should be an individuals choice which I would support if I could as I have adopted most other energy saving options. Encourage rather than Rule.

      ‘eyesores’ is an opinion rather than a fact which sadly escapes many,

      I wonder how much real use are the windmills on Polytech in generating real power other than for research purposes.
      .

      • greywarshark 1.1.1

        An eyesore eh. All places of industry in a built environment can be classified as eyesores by some. A portaloo is an eyesore, a cowshed with a rusty roof, a port with its structures that handle the manufactures and produce made by the people and receives for the people is an eyesore by the seaside or lake.

        Those who want a thriving country yet without evidence of work and industry, find many things eyesores. To me much of this is good and desirable and I love to see things in the right place for them. It is only when they are like the rose that is a weed in the wrong place, that structures are eyesores. Town planning had some effect on limiting eyesores.

        If necessity suggests a wind generator and it can be done without affecting people or birds then welcome it, while the opportunity to install it is available. Time is of the essence.

        • John Clover 1.1.1.1

          I think most of the birds would quickly discover and avoid the danger of the blades.

          I doubt if the noise would unduely affect people, as I recently had to get used to and learnt to ignore the noise of the harbour dredge working level with my house.

          No it was sad that the nimby's blocked progress. I would welcome a few windmills in the wide open harbour near my home as having generation close to user is best.

          Their noise would be an irritation for starters but I would quickly get used to it for the benefits of my power not having to travel dozens of Km loosing much of it in the process.

  2. Sacha 2

    Now does seem like a great time for progressive Councils to strongly make their case to central government for the long-needed law changes to enable sustainable urban development including active transport and fair funding arrangements.

    • Ad 2.1

      A left-leaning city council and a left-leaning central government is a pretty rare confluence in New Zealand. Best to use it.

    • weka 2.2

      would be good to legislate councils back towards a community mandate while they're at it.

  3. John Clover 3

    I am glad that I will be ashes before as a ratepayer I would be forced to contribute to that grandiose scheme though I am impressed by the skill and competence of the video makers 🙂

  4. mary_a 4

    Go Dunedin yes. Congratulations Aaron Hawkins. May this be the beginning of a strong Green trend emerging in local and central politics.

    This is exactly why I voted STV instead of MMP to be our system of voting, back in the day when it was put to the country. It is a far superior and fairer means of electing our representatives, a point Dunedin has just clearly demonstrated.

  5. weka 5

    Anyone got an analysis of the councillors? Lots of sustainability people in Dunedin, there's a real opportunity now for Dndn to lead on this.

  6. millsy 6

    From all accounts, Hawkins only got in because none could stand that Vandervis guy. Hopefully he wont get himself tossed out in 3 years, like Lester did.

    Looking forward to a general analysis of the local election results from all over the country from you, Ad.

  7. Stuart Munro. 7

    "a bold proposal to revive its waterfront"

    More Dubai than Dunedin – another white elephant wished upon us by folk with no feel for the landscape.

  8. McFlock 8

    overall, it's maybe a tweak to the left (altyhough incumbent Whiley is a "drill baby drill" guy and possible-elect-last-place-might-change Lord is fedfarmers and Radich is a bit unknown, so maybe not). Hawkins got the blessing of Cull (retiring mayor), so I'm not expecting a lurch left. But it's not too bad.

    The Aurora/Delta thing (power poles rotting to the point of collapse) isn't six years old, by the way. Those poles were due for replacement in the 1990s (but dividends to council were more attractive than preventive maintenance, first for debt and then to pay for the stadium). Dunedin's entire history is based around mediocre city planning with occasional outrageous incompetence. Steepest residential st in the world (for a time), ripping up tramlines, watching infrastructure decay, not doing hydro planning so sth dunedin floods in strong rain, the stadium… we have a proud history of bloody stupid city management. It should have historic places trust listing lol

  9. Paul Campbell 9

    I think that in an STV election it makes little point to describe this as a horse race during counting, let's remember that the final counting described above is done by a computer program that runs in a second or so – Vandervis would have been ahead for a fraction of a second ….

    More interesting is the way the final voting turned out

    Aaron won by 1700 votes but 12,000 people's votes were not counted because they didn't rank enough candidates under STV

  10. John Clover 10

    "… but 12,000 people's votes were not counted because they didn't rank enough candidates under STV"

    Surely that is not correct?

    I am sure I read somewhere that you only needed to make a 'One' next to one person if you wished, or were lazy/hosed off by STV but still felt you should vote..

    • William 10.1

      You are correct, you don't need to rank all the candidates.

      From http://www.stv.govt.nz/stv/voting.htm

      "What else do I need to know?

      For your vote to be counted there just needs to be a single '1'. After that the numbers you use must be in sequence and there must be only one of each number."

    • Paul Campbell 10.2

      Perhaps a better way of saying it "more than 12,000 votes were discarded during counting because they didn't rank enough candidates".

      Here's another visualisation of the Dunedin counting

      The gray bit on the right represents the votes that drop out of the counting because they didn't rank enough candidates … most of the people who voted for Whiley didn't rank either Hawkins of Vandervis so their votes were discarded.

      This is interesting because Whiley can be seen to be the candidate of local business (aka the Tartan Mafia), it essentially indicates that Dunedin politics is split 3 ways – 'greens' (Hawkins), 'anti-stadium' (Vandervis) and the more traditional business right

      • McFlock 10.2.1

        lol "anti-stadium".

        Bonkers, if you ask me – fixated on parking spots this time around, complaining that they're being lost because of cycleways etc. Not to mention releasing a video of him getting all finger-pointy at a DCC receptionist when all he needed to do was pay the damned parking ticket and lodge an appeal – and he thought the muted video proved he wasn't shouting lol.

        • Paul Campbell 10.2.1.1

          There's a lot of people who initially supported him for his stand against the stadium, and I assume it's why people continue to support him despite his rancor around the council (he was ranked #1 by more than twice the number of people he needed to be elected to council, more than any other councilor).

          There's a lot of people in Dunedin still angry about the stadium, all the issues that were put forward against it have been proven true, the results are ongoing, in particular the rugby community ended up not raising their portion of the private fundraising, ratepayers pay $4m a year to service that loan – power polls are falling because too much money was taken from Aurora to service the main stadium loan. The rates rebate we used to get from the council, long gone to subsidise rugby tickets

          • McFlock 10.2.1.1.1

            The dividend suck from lines maintenance started well before the stadium.

            I suspect VDV's electoral problem, other than a matching set of batshit stupid ideas to match his occasional good ideas as well as his deplorable interpersonal skills, is that a chunk of people love him and a whole lot more people are sick to death of him. So rather than getting high preference across a bunch of mainstream candidates, he gets a high proportion of first ballots, some high preferences from supporters of fringe candidates, and the mainstream candidates' (e.g. top six) supporters put him way down their lists. Would need the formal results to really demonstrate that, though

  11. William 11

    No votes were discarded. As soon as you mark a "1" beside a candidate your vote is counted.

    Choosing not to rank all candidates merely indicates the elector regards the unranked candidates as not at all worthy of support. That's a rational action. Many of Whiley's supporters found both of the two that faced off in the final iteration equally despicable.

    Voting's not like the pub raffle where you have to be in to win.

    • Paul Campbell 11.1

      The thing is that if you consider Hawkins and Vandervis equally despicable then that's a perfectly OK strategy.

      But if after the election is done you find yourself saying "I wish Vandervis had won!" or "I'm glad Hawkins beat Vandervis" then you did have a preference and should have ranked the candidate you wanted.

      I don't believe there were 12000 (almost a third) voters who had no preference between these two candidates, more likely I think a lot of people thought that ranking a couple of candidates would be enough and didn't bother

      • William 11.1.1

        Perhaps you're imagining conversations others might have.

        You'd be better to direct your angst towards the nearly 51,000 that didn't vote at all. But they're entitled to do that.

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