Here's the Island Bay Healthy Streets voting recommendations for the 2022 Wellington City Council elections
Got your voting papers? This is going to be a tight election so make sure you vote and encourage everyone you know to vote. In addition to posting your vote here's a list of drop-off locations around the the city, including supermarkets and libraries. Easy! Drop off locations
Here's the recommendations. First, a caveat - these are progressive recommendations for progressive voters. This is an important election for Wellington. There has been significant progress in areas such as housing and transport over the last three years which needs protecting. Wellington is a pretty progressive town but it requires people to vote and to encourage other friends and family to vote, especially the younger voters, students and renters who stand to benefit most from more housing, better transport options and finally tackling an infrastructure deficit that previous generations and councils have allowed to build up while they enjoy artificially low rates.
Party tickets are also really important this year. The standard of the independent candidates is generally pretty poor. Many of them seem to be running solely on a sense of grievance with nothing more to offer than cliches about 'listening to the community' (which means listening to the people they agree with), 'sensible spending' (which means spending on the things they agree with) and magically reducing rates while also fixing infrastructure (spoiler alert - that won't happen).
A significant number of the independents don't seem to have engaged in local politics before and most don't appear to have ever made a submission on a council consultation. For example, it really doesn't look good to be complaining about rates, or a lack of planning, or a lack of consultation when you never made a submission during the council's Long Term Plan process i.e. the consultation on the plan that determines what our rates will be.
Many candidates don't seem to have any real appreciation of how local government works or how they can effect change with just one vote at the council table. Some of the promises being made by independents are ridiculous and sorry but any candidate claiming they will be able to lower rates , or even hold them at current levels, is lying to you. Rates have been too low for years and now we have no choice except to play catch up.
In contrast, both Labour and the Greens have put out very clear, comprehensive and progressive Wellington Local Government policies that their candidates are obliged to support:
Labour Wellington Local Government Policy 2022
Green Wellington Local Government Policy 2022
The fact that party candidates have already been vetted during selection processes and that you can expect to see a degree of co-ordination at the council table gives voters a level of reassurance that the independents just can't provide. There may be times in the future to be more sceptical of party candidates but this election definitely isn't it. As a general rule I am including the Labour and Green candidate in the top 3 ranking in every ward.
The Labour and Green party tickets have much more comprehensive and progressive policies than the independents
Remember: Wellington City uses the STV system where you rank all the candidates in order and you cannot hurt the chances of your favoured candidates as long as you rank them above your less favoured candidates. Read more about STV here.
Candidates have been assessed using the following criteria:
Finally, this election is too important to Wellington to be pulling any punches so no apologies from me for being as frank as possible. Here's the recommendations with a brief comment about each set:
Rank 1: Tory Whanau
Rank 2: Andy Foster
Rank 3 or 4: Paul Eagle/Ellen Blake
Rank 5-8 (in any order you like): Don McDonald, Ray Chung, Chris Dudfield, Kelvin Hastie
Rank 9 (last): Barbara McKenzie
Comment: Tory Whanau is the only progressive choice for Mayor. She has the freshest and most positive vision for Wellington, is strong in some key policy areas such as transport and has the advantage over Andy Foster and Paul Eagle of not having been on the council for multiple terms already and not having to accept some accountability for why we're in the position we're in now. I've already outlined why I think Paul Eagle is not the best choice for Mayor and I think Andy Foster gets the #2 ranking because although he and Paul are both relatively conservative candidates at least with Andy you still get a competent bureaucrat. Ellen Blake is probably the best of the rest although she has strong NIMBY leanings. I outlined in this Mayoral candidates meeting review why Ray Chung, Chris Dudfield and Kelvin Hastie are all problematic candidates and Barbara McKenzie needs to be avoided altogether as a Trump supporting anti-vaxer. Don McDonald is just Don.
Rank 1: Jenny Condie
Rank 2: Ben McNulty
Rank 3: Robyn Parkinson
Rank 4: James Sullivan
Rank 5-10 (in any order you like): Raveen Annamalai, Rachel Qi, John Peters, Tony Randle, James Sales, John Apanowicz
Comment: Jenny Condie is the outstanding candidate in Northern and a member of the Fab 5 current councillors that we need to bring back. Ben McNulty (Labour) and Robyn Parkinson (Green) then get the nod due to their progressive party platforms. Robyn Parkinson just edges out the very progressively minded James Sullivan based on her work with the Tawa Community Board. While there are some other candidates with strong community links they are mostly conservatives who have tied themselves to either the Paul Eagle or Andy Foster independent-but-not-really tickets and should be avoided.
Rank 1: Rebecca Matthews
Rank 2: Lachlan Patterson
Rank 3 or 4: Bob Mason/Alexander Garside
Rank 5-10 (in any order you like): Ray Chung, Diane Calvert, Kush Bhargava, Kelvin Hastie, Ryan Bothma, Heather Baldwin
Rank 11 (last): Barbara McKenzie
Comment: Rebecca Matthews (Labour) is the clear #1. She's probably the strongest current councillor on increasing housing supply and is a member of the Fab 5 we need to get back on council. Lachlan Patterson (Green) provides a much-needed younger voice in Wharangi. The only other obvious progressives are Bob Mason and Alexander Garside who I find hard to separate so take your pick for the 3rd spot. Diane Calvert is conservative as hell and has shamelessly pitched her tent in the Eagle camp for no better reason than she knows he won't do anything 'too hard' which suits her reactionary agenda. Ray Chung and Kelvin Hastie are both running for Mayor but are grievance candidates and not even fit to be councillors. The others seems pretty anonymous, have never made submissions before and didn't fill in the IBHS or Vote Climate surveys, although Heather Baldwin has good community connections. Barbara McKenzie needs to be ranked last again as a Trump supporting anti-vaxer.
Rank 1: Tamatha Paul
Rank 2: Afnan AL-Rubayee
Rank 3: Jonathan Markwick
Rank 4: Iona Pannett
Rank 5: Ellen Blake
Rank 6-9 (in any order you like): Nicola Young, Zan Rai Gyaw, Jane O'Loughlin, Karl Tiefenbacher
Rank 10 (last): Nicholas Hancox
Comment: Tamatha Paul (Green) is the outstanding candidate in Pukehīnau and another member of the Fab 5. Afnan AL-Rubayee gets the nod at #2 as the Labour candidate and someone with good community connections. The #3 ranking here is probably the closest call in this whole exercise. Jonathan Markwick is young but holds very progressive views as seen in his previous submissions to council and responses to surveys. That means he pinches the #3 ranking from the very experienced Iona Pannett who can still be relied upon to vote progressively on just about everything but housing. Ellen Blake is probably the best of the rest although she has strong NIMBY leanings, as does Jane O'Loughlin. Nicola Young is deeply conservative and needs to go after a triennium spent moaning and voting against anything remotely worthwhile. Zan Rai Gyaw and Karl Tiefenbacher are just grievance candidates. Nicholas Hancox should be ranked last as an anti-vaxer and participant in the Feb protest at Parliament.
Rank 1: Teri O'Neill
Rank 2: Luana Scowcroft
Rank 3: Sarah Free
Rank 4-6 (in any order you like): Steph Edlin, Ken Ah Kuoi, Nathan Meyer
Rank 7: Tim Brown
Rank 8: Aaron Gilmore
Rank 9 (last): Rob Goulden
Comment: Teri O'Neill (Labour) is a member of the Fab 5 and has been a very effective councillor during her first term. Luana Scowcroft (Green) is ranked #2 as someone with a very progressive voice. Despite some conservative votes on housing during the last triennium Sarah Free is still clearly in the top 3 and can still be relied upon to vote progressively on most other things. Tim Brown will be well known from his time on the Wellington Airport board but holds some confusing positions on too many things, is opposed to the NPS-UD and did not do well on his Vote Climate survey [due to his high name recognition he's ranked low here to lessen the risk of him getting on*]. The rest mostly seem like grievance candidates and members of the 'fix infrastructure but with lower rates while opposing the density that might actually lower rates' magical thinking cult. Aaron Gilmore is well-known for all the wrong reasons and is in an arm-wrestle to be ranked last with Rob Goulden who is one of the worst councillors Wellington ever had.
Rank 1: Laurie Foon
Rank 2: Nureddin Abdurahman
Rank 3: Jonathan Coppard
Rank 4-7 (in any order you like): Inoke Afeaki, Dipak Bhana, Iain Alasdair MacLeod, Urmila Bhana
Rank 8: Paula Muollo
Rank 9: Chris Dudfield
Rank 10 (last): Ate Moala
Comment: Laurie Foon is one of the best current councillors, a member of the Fab 5 and the #1 candidate in Paekawakawa by a mile. Nureddin Abdurahman (Labour) has extensive community links and the Labour policy platform means he just edges out another very active community advocate Jonathan Coppard. Both would be great in that second spot though. As can be seen in this Paekawakawa candidates meeting review from there it's pretty much just 'I've got a grievance so I'm running for council as a form of therapy'. Inoke Afeaki seemed like he could be good until he started slagging off cycleways and it appears he's fallen in with Paula Muollo, a former associate of Terry Serepisos who has little more to offer than empty platitudes about listening to everybody, sensible spending and increasing density but only in "the right areas". We all know what that's code for - NIMBY [due to her high name recognition she's ranked low here to lessen the risk of her getting on*]. Iain MacLeod is another self-confessed NIMBY who doesn't think there should be densification in "high-decile suburbs with nice facilities". Nobody from the #4 ranking down appears to have submitted to the council on anything significant before, have much community involvement and they mostly haven't bothered to complete the surveys they've been asked to, such as Vote Climate. Chris Dudfield deserves special mention for being one of the most arrogant, entitled and genuinely unlikeable council candidates in years but still gets beaten out of last spot by Ate Moala, a Trump-supporting, anti-vax, homophobe and transphobe.
Rank 1 or 2: Matthew Reweti/Nīkau Wi Neera
Rank 3: Ali Hamlin-Paenga
Comment: I don't have too much to say about Te Whanganui-a-Tara except that Matthew Reweti (Labour) and Nīkau Wi Neera (Green) both seem like really good candidates and you could probably vote for either one. Ali Hamlin-Paenga seems well-qualified too and has a background in social housing but her comment at the Island Bay Residents Association candidates meeting that she would ask the people of Island Bay whether they wanted Light Rail was silly for a project of city-wide importance that has already been widely-consulted on.
Hope that helps. Whether you agree with these recommendations or not the most important thing is that you vote, and encourage everybody else you know to vote too.
*Updated 17/9 to reflect that Tim Brown & Paula Muollo's high name recognition may lead to them being ranked higher than they deserve. Progressives should probably rank them as low as possible to lessen the risk of them getting on.
Here's how the Wellington City Council candidates say they would have voted on some key issues facing the city
I recently published an analysis of how the current Wellington City councillors voted on some key issues. In this Part II let's look at the results of a survey of the new candidates where they were asked how they would have voted on exactly the same motions. Tools such as Policy Local are helpful but asking candidates for their policy positions allows them to play safe and take a middle-of-the-road approach that hides their true beliefs. However, asking them how they would have voted on actual motions that the current council voted on leaves no place to hide and is also a pretty handy test of their ability to read and understand council papers in a short space of time, just as they will be expected to do if they are elected.
The two meetings chosen are the final approval of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan at the Annual Plan/Long-term Plan Committee on 27 May 2021 and the final approval of the Proposed District Plan for Public Notification at the Pūroro Āmua Planning & Environment Committee on 23 June 2022. Both meetings have enough juicy voting to sort the conservatives from the progressives, the NIMBYs from the YIMBYs and the climate heroes from the climate zeroes. In this spreadsheet I've collated the votes from those two meetings that weren't purely procedural or unanimous so that you can do your own analysis and come to your own conclusions if you wish (I've ignored the unanimous votes because they don't really reveal the differences between councillors and candidates). Make sure you read the notes first though! In both cases I've only recorded the voting on the substantive motion (after amendments) and not the voting on the amendments. This is only after checking that the voting on the substantive motion was in line with any amendments made, which it almost always was.
15 out of 47 new candidates actually completed a survey asking them how they would have voted, a completion rate of 32%. A further 7 candidates replied but declined to complete the survey, mostly because they said they were too busy. The remaining 25 candidates didn't bother to reply at all. The candidates who completed the survey were overwhelmingly the progressive candidates. Read into that what you like but it seems that it's the progressive candidates who are a) prepared to do the mahi and b) happy to demonstrate what their policy statements will mean in reality.
Long Term Plan
The final approval of the Long Term Plan in May 2021 came at the end of a long process that had been variously described as a shambles and a dog's breakfast. The motions covered a wide variety of areas including:
Of the 15 candidates who completed the survey by far the most reactionary and conservative was Chris Dudfield (standing for Mayor and Paekawakawa/Southern) who took the Nicola Young approach of voting against virtually everything including cycleways, the Pōneke Promise to reduce sexual violence and alcohol harm, funding for youth hubs/better youth engagement, footpath upgrades, upgrading Khandallah Summer Pool and town centre upgrades for Berhampore and Island Bay. Let's be clear - this isn't 'common sense spending' or getting 'back to basics', it's running the city into the ground. It's compounding an already chronic under-investment in infrastructure and social cohesion in a lazy attempt to win votes with exactly the same brand of short-sighted fiscal conservatism that got us into this mess in the first place. Aaron Gilmore and Rob Goulden (both standing for Motukairangi/Eastern) both voted against increased spending on cycleways. Aaron Gilmore also voted against increased spending for the arts and Rob Goulden voted against upgrading Frank Kitts Park. The progressive candidates all voted for all of the above initiatives.
Key vote: Cycleways
Cycleways are definitely a hot topic in Wellington and create a clear distinction between progressive and conservative so this is the key vote on the Long Term Plan in the candidates survey for me. Option 4 was to significantly increase funding and deliver a city-wide bike network (covering 150km of Wellington's 700km of roads, approx. 20%). Cycleways was the only Long Term Plan item that the council consulted on where the public's preference (Option 4, to spend more) was not the council's, and where councillors actually voted against council officers' recommendation (Option 3, spend less) via an amendment.
Agree to adopt Option 4 rather than Option 3 for the delivery of future cycling infrastructure
For: Ben McNulty, Tory Whanau, James Sullivan, Matthew Reweti, Lachlan Patterson, Nīkau Wi Neera, Luana Scowcroft, Jonathan Coppard, Bob Mason, Jonathan Markwick, Nureddin Mohamed Abdurahman, Afnan AL-Rubayee
Against: Chris Dudfield, Aaron Gilmore, Rob Goulden
The 12 progressive candidates you can trust with your vote. On the 2 key votes in the survey they voted FOR building a city-wide bike network and AGAINST reducing walking catchments in the District Plan
Approving the District Plan for public notification on 23 June 2022 also came at the end of a long process of public consultation called Planning for Growth, which resulted in a new Spatial Plan and draft District Plan for Wellington. Hopes were high that the new Spatial Plan and District Plan would enable a lot more homes to be built in Wellington so that's why this meeting caused controversy by walking back much of that progress in what The Dominion Post described as "a devastating u-turn". The voting here is really on a single issue: housing and densification.
Key vote: Walking catchments
This vote reduced walking catchments (the boundaries within which six-storey buildings can be built) from 15 minutes’ walking distance of areas around the central city to just 10 minutes, meaning there will be less land available for enabling more homes via greater density. The reduction means Wellington has taken a more conservative approach than other councils, where 15 minutes is standard. If you have hopes of ever buying a home in Wellington, or you want your children or grandchildren to be able to, voting for this makes it harder.
Agree that the walking catchments recommended by officers, in respect of the spatial plan, to be reinstated as follows:
For: Chris Dudfield, Aaron Gilmore, Rob Goulden
Against: Ben McNulty, Tory Whanau, James Sullivan, Matthew Reweti, Lachlan Patterson, Nīkau Wi Neera, Luana Scowcroft, Jonathan Coppard, Bob Mason, Jonathan Markwick, Nureddin Mohamed Abdurahman, Afnan AL-Rubayee
So there you have it. If you are a progressive voter it should be pretty clear who you can safely vote for among the new candidates, in addition to the Fab 5 current councillors standing again. But so that there's absolutely no confusion in a few days I'll be making definitive recommendations by ward on who to rank and in what order. Watch this space!
The most important thing of all is to VOTE and encourage all of you friend and family to vote too. Spread the word!
Here's why I don't think Paul Eagle is a good candidate for Mayor
With the campaign now in full swing there's really only three serious contenders for Wellington Mayor:
Tory Whanau is the only fresh-face there but looks qualified to do the role and has a very progressive set of policies. Andy Foster has been on the council for 30 years, including being the Mayor for the last three. Paul Eagle was also on the council for seven years from 2010 to 2017 and has been Rongotai MP for the last five years. Paul has a lot of name recognition around Wellington but here's why I don't think that translates into him being a good candidate for Mayor.
First, Paul promised during his 2020 general election campaign for Rongotai that he wouldn't run for Mayor. If he does, and wins, it will trigger a by-election costing more than 1 million dollars. It's not a good start to a Mayoral campaign that simply by running you prove we can't trust you and that you think you are worth taxpayers paying a million dollar premium for, especially when you already triggered a by-election when you left WCC for parliament in 2017.
Going back on your word like this might not matter as much if you're a great leader with a proven track record. For example, all previous cases of MPs who triggered by-elections by leaving Parliament mid-term to become Mayors had already been Ministers in Government (Fran Wilde in 1992, Lianne Dalziel in 2013 and Phil Goff in 2016, all from the Labour Party). Paul is nowhere near that level, however. In two terms in parliament he's never even chaired a Select Committee. In 2020 his list ranking dropped from 34 to 49 and if he didn't have a safe electorate seat he might not even be in the next parliament with a ranking that low (there's a theory that he's low on the list because he has a safe electorate seat but 13 of his colleagues with 'safe' margins of 10,000 or more are ahead of him on the list and the average list placement of Labour MPs with margins of 10,000 or more is 23 so he definitely has a well below average ranking).
Paul has also been on the council before and frankly achieved very little during those seven years except for trying and failing to stop a cycleway from being built. Both Paul and Andy Foster are part of a small group of current and past city councillors who have been on the council for multiple terms and who must accept responsibility for leading Wellington into the situation it is in now. It's not as if Wellington's pipes only became a problem in the last five years so why would we think the same people who let the problem get this bad are now the right people to fix it? [On a side note I would seriously consider not ranking highly any councillor who has already done multiple terms at this election. The Fab 5 of Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Laurie Foon, Tamatha Paul and Jenny Condie, (who are all first-term councillors) are the ones we should definitely vote back in].
Paul is more of a populist and opportunist. An example of this is his handling of the Island Bay Cycleway, which resulted in the Dominion Post accusing him of "pure demagoguery" and "risible sloganeering", and this is the issue where I have had first-hand experience of dealing with him.
Paul Eagle took the side of Island Bay Cycleway opponents
As soon as the cycleway became an issue in 2014 he took the side of opponents, wrongly assuming that there was no support for it. A more community-minded leader might have shown some insight and used his mana to take a more conciliatory approach. Instead Paul relentlessly doubled-down on anti-cyclist rhetoric. During the period 2015-2016 he was pictured repeatedly in the cycleway in a variety of angry poses. The message here is very clear and it's not one of reconciliation. In 2015 he was even one of the founding members of the anti-cycleway Island Bay Residents Association, who later took the council to court for a judicial review that failed spectacularly (Paul was an active member of IBRA until at least 2017. It's not clear at what point he ceased to be a member. In 2022 IBRA finally adopted a neutral position on the cycleway).
During 2015-2016 Paul Eagle spent a lot of time standing in the cycleway looking cross
Some of the rhetoric he used around that time was appalling. Only days before Christmas in 2015 he used the hashtag #WCCGestapo multiple times to refer to WCC staff. Imagine working for the council and two days before Christmas a councillor is comparing you to the Nazi secret police. At the time of writing - nearly 7 years later - the tweets have still not been deleted. If you worked for WCC now would you want him back? Is that the sort of leadership that would inspire you to do your best?
Invoking this sort of rhetoric clearly had knock-on effects. A couple of years later cycleway opponents were emboldened to make tasteless comparisons to the Third Reich and accuse his successor as Southern Ward councillor of being a Nazi.
Incredibly, he even ended up pissing off cycleway opponents by voting for the never-actually-implemented 2017 'Mayor's compromise'. The Island Bay Residents Association Chair described being "gobsmacked" and "cut to the heart" by his "unforgiveable" u-turn.
His opportunism and poor judgement isn't limited to the cycleway either. In April 2015, a full 18 months out from the October 2016 local body elections, he announced he would be running for Deputy Mayor on a joint ticket with Mayoral candidate Nicola Young. By March 2016 he was forced into an embarrassing back-track by Labour. Announcing that he would now be riding Mayoral candidate Justin Lester's coattails into the Deputy Mayor role he admitted "In hindsight I should have gone to the party first".
Another example of poor judgement and questionable behaviour is this 2018 incident where Paul was accused of swearing at a panel-beater and being "entitled, rude and disrespectful". In the Reddit thread where the incident first came to light he was also accused of ringing a constituent to "have a big angry rant" and on another occasion "tearing into an elderly lady" at a meeting. Being "rude and disrespectful" seems to be a common theme in complaints about Paul on social media. This probably wouldn't matter if he was just another citizen like the rest of us but is this really what we want from our Mayor?
He seems especially thin-skinned about people disagreeing with him and is prone to either block or respond in a way that doesn't reflect the higher level of scrutiny elected reps should expect and the huge power imbalance between a politician and a constituent.
Paul's position of power means wide social media reach. Is it appropriate for him to use it to call people "keyboard warriors", make veiled threats about a business's council lease or claim that criticising his position on an issue is the catalyst for "hate" towards his family? (for what it's worth every criticism I've ever made of Paul's position on the Island Bay cycleway and transport generally is still online here and on the Island Bay Healthy Streets Twitter and Facebook. I stand by it all and will leave it to others to judge whether it's legitimate criticism of an elected representative or "hate").
More recently, questions have been asked about the appropriateness of him using Parliamentary resources to run a survey "for electorate purposes only" when he was clearly already preparing a Mayoral bid. He also managed to get himself in a situation where he was basically threatening the organisation he wants to lead with legal action. He denied that his campaign team set up their hoardings early, despite eye-witness statements that they did, and was also instructed to replace a rival candidates hoarding that his team had removed. On their own most of these incidents don't amount to much but taken together there seems to be a consistent pattern of a lack of respect for the rules, a lack of respect for the other candidates and playing a bit fast and loose with the truth.
Paul is running as an independent endorsed by Labour but even the path to that endorsement doesn't seem to have been easy or straight-forward. The Dominion Post reports that Labour "presented him with a rather draconian list of conditions related to endorsing him". When Labour released it's Wellington Local Government Policy for 2022 he immediately distanced himself from it, describing it as "aspirational" and actually rejecting Labour's policy on cycleways. When I emailed Labour General Secretary Rob Salmond asking him to release the detail of Paul’s endorsement and to clarify if he was in any way bound by Labour’s Wellington Local Government Policy he replied "Paul Eagle is running an independent campaign for the Wellington Mayoralty. His campaign’s independent status means he is not bound by Labour’s Wellington Local Government Policy. Instead, Paul is free to promote his own suite of policies for the election. I anticipate there will be good crossover between Paul’s policies and Labour’s policies, of course, because we share the same values". So Paul isn't actually bound by Labour Policy at all which makes you wonder what Paul did agree to in order to get the endorsement. We still don't know.
Paul's own policies focused on getting 'back to the basics' of 'parks, pools, pipes, and potholes' are remarkably conservative and short-sighted. The fact that right-wingers like Diane Calvert and Nicola Young are supporting Paul should be a massive red-flag. They know that it's not Paul's instinct to try and do anything 'too hard' which suits them just fine. Of course the pipes need to be fixed (and the current council has already put in place significant funding over 10 years to do that) but 'back to basics', is really just another way of saying let's re-establish and protect existing privileges but no more. In the middle of a housing crisis and climate crisis we need much bolder and more progressive leadership than that.
Anyway, that's as matter-of-fact an explanation as I can give for now about why I don't think Paul Eagle would be a good Mayor. I'm not saying Paul is a bad person or even a bad politician. But I am saying that he is well short of the standard we should expect from a Mayor and I think we can do better. If you have a progressive bone in your body then you really should rank Tory Whanau at #1. But above all else, whether you agree or disagree, VOTE! And encourage all your family and friends to vote. This is a huge election for Wellington so let's not die wondering.
I realise people may want to share their own thoughts about Paul, which would be welcome, but if you do please try and keep it as factual, respectful and focused on his suitability to be Mayor as possible. I don't want to be accused of being a catalyst for hate again. I'm especially interested in hearing what people think Paul's key achievements are and what particular attributes qualify him to be Mayor. Apart from turning up at a lot of things and being well-known I'm honestly not sure what they are.