A fresh Wellington City Council; winners, losers, surprises, and diversity

In what is probably the largest shakeup to Wellington city council in many years, we have a new mayor and several new Councillors creating a political pack that is significantly more diverse than previous groups. I look back at what I predicted.

Got to say it, I picked Andy some weeks back as the winner of the Mayoralty, though, I profess to having a lot of second thoughts through the process and was more than a little surprised when I saw the results come in. I’ve been giving it some thought as to why this result.

We didn’t have a Nick Leggett character in the running this time around, and Nick managed to tap into a very large population base that was going begging this election. A lot of those votes would have gone to Andy as both he and Nick looked quite similar.

People have commented that this was an “anti-Lester” vote. I don’t know that I agree with that sentiment. I don’t think Justin did enough to get over the line, and he got damn close. But Lester was hard to define for people. What was he promising? Was he Labour? Was he secretly more centre-right? Justin tended to polarise people that I talked too; he was loved, or hated, something that I struggled to understand.

Andy represented a more conservative move I think, highlighting costs that were ever-increasing, promising a return to a more stable financial period, coming down on vanity projects, and using Shelly Bay as the perfect microcosm to tap into those issues.

He also had a lot of massive billboards placed in exactly the right places, at exactly the right time, with exactly the right messages. All of that played into his hands and just pushed him over the line to win.

The left attack pack did little to help Justin. By hunting Andy over spurious issues from anonymous social media accounts, it gave Andy a little bit of hero status. A spectacular backfire from that group.

Or maybe we just wanted a change. We do that now and again. It will be interesting to take the barometer from right around the country over the next few days and see how all these results could be telling of the mood that we are going to take in the general election next year.

Right now, if I were Labour, I’d be worried. Because there I can see a tipping point being reached and unless arrested, National will be back at the end of next year. There I go again, making predictions.

In terms of the wards, there were some real surprises for me, that I should have seen coming.

I had tipped Diane Calvert, Simon Woolf, and then Conor Hill for western. I got the first two right and had a moment of surprise when I saw that Rebecca Matthews, on the Labour ticket, got in third.

Traditionally, western don’t entertain Labour candidates; they tend to be more conservative. What Labour had done this time was target that ward heavily, as well as eastern, with the usual army of volunteers.

I’m confused as to why Conor didn’t make it. He had massive media coverage and fitted that more “independent” candidate that western usually likes. Some analysis into that would bode well for Conor when he runs again. I think he will because now he has the fever.

Northern ward, nailed it. Malcolm Sparrow, Jill Day, and Jennie Condie. I was a little worried about Jenny as a prediction because she doesn’t come across as that northern, conservative candidate. But, in a ward of conservative candidates she was always going to grab that youthful, centre-left, vote.

Malcolm is the Mayor of Tawa, and there was no doubt he was going to get back in. Jill Day is a little bit of an enigma for me. She has been largely invisible during her time and it may the fact people think she is Labour, even though she is not, that got her back in.

Peter Gilberd, our city scientist, was looking weak through the triennium and never really quite found his feet. We need a city scientist, and it feels like a bit of an opportunity lost that we didn’t see much out of that leadership role.

I got Lambton right. Iona Pannett, Nicola Young, and Tamatha Paul. I did get some mockery picking Tamatha over Brian Dawson, but you could smell a change in that group. Tamatha campaigned well. Young, enigmatic, independent, energetic, and sweary from time to time.

Nicola and Iona were always going to take their respective slices of the political spectrum vote.

Nailed Southern, Fleur Fitzsimons and Laurie Foon. Labour and Green, there should be no surprises with those choices in that ward.

I came unstuck on Eastern Ward; I suspect there was more emotion in that one given it’s my home ward, and I know the players well.

I picked; Chris Calvi-Freeman, Sarah Free, and Steph Edlin. We got; Sarah Free, Teri O’Neill, and Sean Rush.

Eastern is not typically a Labour loving ward, so I was surprised to see Teri O’Neill come in. However, like western, a lot of groundwork went into that result, and with the retirement of Simon Marsh, votes were going to have to go somewhere.

Sean Rush surprised me, a complete unknown, he managed to bump Chris Calvi-Freeman. However, campaigning under the centre-right Wellington Party, he may have managed to snag a few votes.

Chris Calvi-Freeman was polarising, but in the end, he may have just campaigned too much. There is such a thing. The transport portfolio would have hurt, but not as much as the idea of banning tooting in the tunnel or putting a pedestrian crossing across SH1 on Cobham Drive. Both suggestions went down badly out east and weren’t forgotten.

On that basis, I declare I have a 77% accuracy rate. Which, frankly, could be improved, because I suspect that my fellow commentators did far better than I did.

Next, I’m going to take a look at the potential dynamics of the new council given its highly-diverse make-up.

One thought on “A fresh Wellington City Council; winners, losers, surprises, and diversity

  1. Very poor campaigning by Lester and massive democracy subversion spending available to Foster – a couple of my articles: 1. Justin Lester – Destined to Lose? and 2. Wellington Mayoral Election 2019: A Whole New Low in Influence-Peddling? Tracy Watkins is on to it.


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