Voters’ Guide to choose the right Candidate

With twelve days to go, here is a list of questions

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has designed six sets of questions that can be used when talking with a Candidate standing for Local Body Elections, for which voting closes on October 12, 2019.

They are applicable to all positions.

TINZ is also sending these to a large number of Local Body Candidates around New Zealand. These questions will encourage Candidates to reflect and select some to focus on in their social media or other promotions.

The questions focus on integrity, transparency and accountability including encouraging broader community participation in decision-making.

TINZ is non-partisan. It is up to the public and individual citizens to form their own view on responses.

Assessing all Candidates

The questions ask Candidates to think about their personal motivation in standing. Candidates are also asked to reflect on their stance on accountability and their knowledge of the law relating to access to official information and how well it is applied in their area.

Questions also explore how Candidates will balance economic, social and environmental matters. Further, the questions ask about their understanding of local tangata whenua priorities, which parts of the community they think are missing out on participation in local body decision-making and what they would do to change that.

The Questions:

Personal motivation: Why are you standing for election? What does integrity in Local Government mean to you? Tell me about conflict of interest and how you manage it.

Access to information: Do you think that the Council (or Board or Trust) gives the public the right amount of information and access to meetings? Tell me what you know about the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act and the Official Information Act?

Public Participation: What are your ideas for getting more public participation in local decisions? Who do you think is missing out? What are your ideas for helping people who don’t have good internet access, to be involved and have their say? What are your plans for engaging with young people

Tangata whenua: What do you think are the main issues that are important to local tangata whenua? Fair representation/diversity; Does your Council (or Board or Trust) Council have fair representation of women as councillors and employees, including leaders? What is your opinion about diversity on and in the council (eg gender, ethnic, disability)?

Accountability: How will you balance economic, social and environmental issues? When it comes to a decision, what will you prioritise? How can I trust you will follow through on your promises?

TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively said that the aim of these questions is to encourage Candidates to think about where their ethical compass is pointing, and if there are gaps in their experience or knowledge.

Positive, Open approach

“We think a positive and open approach to community leadership is something that is learned. Candidates often stand on one issue, or from one point of view. But when elected they make decisions that affect whole communities – whether it is the District Health Board, or the Council or a Community Board or Trust.”

She said that TINZ is encouraging Candidates to pick a couple of questions and answer them in social media or at a hustings meeting.

“This is an opportunity for Candidates to demonstrate their integrity and wisdom. We acknowledge the initiative and courage of all of those who are putting themselves forward for local body leadership. Having many people running for office who reflect a commitment to their communities, a range of interests and diversity is a sign of healthy democracy, which is a treasure for our country,” Ms Snively said.

About Transparency International

Transparency International is a global civil society coalition based in Berlin, leading the fight against corruption. It compiles a number of measures of different aspects of corruption including the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Global Corruption Barometer, and the Bribe Payers Index. Information on Transparency International can be found at www.transparency.org

The New Zealand Chapter

The New Zealand Chapter of Transparency International, based in Wellington, works to actively promote the highest levels of transparency, accountability, integrity and public participation in government and civil society in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

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Photo Caption:

Suzanne Snively (File Photo)

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