This Thursday KCDC is preparing to consider council’s ‘right’ to block vote in the current Electra Trust Board elections.
Council’s 249 votes have the potential to make a significant impact on the outcome where five candidates are vying for two vacant seats on the Board. This is a controversial council move.
‘Votes belong to ratepayers‘
I believe the 249 votes held by council do not belong to the elected members but they belong to ratepayers. It is held in ‘trust’ by council on behalf of ratepayers. As such council has an obligation to ask its ratepayers first. This debate has to be settled before councillors can exercise their presumed right to block vote. At last count there is a clear majority in council to exercise this block vote.
This Thursday’s council meeting has scheduled another public opportunity for the five candidates to present their case on why they should be elected to the Board. I urge the candidates — Duncan Hill, David Scott, Ray Latham, Tony Rush and, especially Chris Turver — to turn up to not just present their individual cases on why they are the best candidates but to engage on the wider democratic debate about the legitimacy of council’s presumed right to use the 249 votes without a ratepayer mandate.
I also support the statement by Mr Tony Rush, in Electra’s candidates election profile where he says; “The Trust is also a bit of a closed shop so he wants to make its work more public”.
‘Nothing done to increase democratic participation
This is backed by the fact that participation by eligible voters in Electra elections has always been very small and nothing has been done to increase greater democratic participation.
This is despite the Electra Trust being one of the most successful consumer trusts in the country contributing millions annually back into the local consumers and economy through its rebates. It is high time there was a greater participation.
I congratulate Mayor Jenny Rowan and my fellow councillors for making a bold move to create a public platform for the candidates.
But the mayor and councillors should not assume they have an automatic right to exercise council’s 249 votes. I am depending on Mr Turver to turn up on Thursday and use his vast experience and persuasive skills to support my contention that councillors need a mandate.
The public, and the media as community watchdogs, need to see the cut and thrust of this debate. The other councillors and I will no doubt have some challenging questions to put to the candidates.
Mr Turver’s and any other candidates refusal to turn up could lead to a public perception that they support the Trust’s continuing existence as a “closed shop” hidden from greater public scrutiny.