Dr Ashraf Choudhary –
Democracy is government by the people for the people, and is a precious right, hard won down through history. But democracy has a price. It is for all of us to take part in the process of voting for the right candidates.
Auckland government is headed by a Mayor, who is elected by everyone.
This is the only position for which all Aucklanders vote. There are 20 Councillors elected with the Mayor to govern the whole region.
They are chosen on a ward basis rather like electorate MPs.
The second level or tier of government is local; where Local Boards are the ruling bodies. Their jurisdiction is over roads, drainage, parks, libraries and so on.
They are also responsible for local planning and development.
At the local level people are elected to the local boards to look after their areas. While their powers to affect matters are limited, they have significant influence on what the council does in their patch.
Labour Team’s four candidates are standing for election to the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board (Papatoetoe Ward) in the coming local body elections.
Our candidates are Ivoni Fuimaono, a Christian Pastor, and very active in the Pasifika community in many ways; Ross Robertson, a current Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board Deputy Chair, and retired Member of Parliament for the Manukau East electorate which includes Papatoetoe; Dawn Trenberth, a childcare teacher who has a lifetime involvement in the Papatoetoe community; and myself (Dr Ashraf Choudhary) with a distinguished academic career with many years as a Professor at Massey University and a former Member of Parliament for 9 years.
All of us are family people.
Our team emphasises the importance of community in local government. For some their primary focus is on the costs especially through rates. While this is a legitimate concern one of the effects of such thinking in the past for Auckland has been that the community has suffered, including in respect of local services such as the traditional functions of roads, drainage and transport.
While council rates cannot be allowed to increase at an unacceptable level, it is proper to invest in the future of Auckland; where individuals, families or central government cannot supply needs for our communities by themselves, it often falls to local government to do so.
Among these are facilities such as libraries, social gathering centres, sports including playing fields and Citizens Advice Bureaux.
Furthermore, the local board can support other initiatives in different ways. These are paid for mainly by rates levied by the council on those who own properties in the area.
Our Labour Team stands for accountability of actions of local board members and enhancement of transparency in governance.
We will not tolerate conflict of interest when making decisions for welfare of our community.
We will promote unity in diversity, justice and equity in our actions.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary is a Candidate for Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board (Papatoetoe Ward) and a Candidate for Counties Manukau District Health Board.