It could take as much as $70,000 to run a serious campaign for the Christchurch mayoralty. But even if they could afford it, why would anyone bother to stand when the election has already been fixed in favour of the present incumbent, the corporate-backed Lianne Dalziel?
IN THIS WEEK'S The Star there is two page spread that asks former Christchurch mayors Bob Parker and Garry Moore what it takes to be mayor. The article is enlightening because it includes some hard figures on what it costs financially to run an organised and serious mayoral campaign.
Under the Electoral Act mayoral candidates can spend up to $70,000 trying to get elected.
In 2010, when his mayoral opponent was Jim Anderton, Bob Parker spent approximately $60,000 including nearly $17,000 on billboards, $18,000 on radio advertising and some $8000 on the services of a public relations company.
In 2013 Lianne Dalziel spent a similar amount - just over $55,000.
Facing these kind of significant financial costs, why would anyone want to run for mayor in 2016 when the election, because of the disgraceful decision of the Labour-backed People's Choice not to run a candidate against her, has effectively been rigged in Dalziel's favour?
That's what the editor of The Star, Barry Clarke, also thinks. In his editorial he warns any aspiring mayoral candidate with a spare $60,000 lying around, that 'Dalziel's a home run'.
Clarke doesn't seem concerned that local democracy has been usurped by the machinations at council level. Nor does he tell us who Dalziel's batting for. Since she has already been endorsed by the government and the corporate sector, that's not hard to work out.
The Star, like the rest of the local media, has failed to ask any hard questions of a Christchurch City Council that has conspired to ensure that Dalziel gets reelected. It is an affront to the people of Christchurch that People's Choice, who last year campaigned vigorously against the massive rates hike and the sale of council-owned assets, are now backing a mayor who was instrumental in implementing both measures.
But last year People's Choice councillor Glenn Livingstone said that the council "shouldn't be taking the chicken route because it's easy". And his fellow People's Choice councillor Yani Yohanson said: "Overwhelmingly the public have fed back to us they do not support the asset sale agenda we have put out as part of our financial strategy."
Unfortunately a docile and conservative local media are more than willing to accept Dalziel's spin that she is loved by all. In the same issue of The Star she claims that people were 'anxious' that she would not stand again and were 'worried' about what that mean for the city. She writes:
'...people said they wanted stability. They felt I had brought unity to the council table and that I had worked hard in gaining the confidence of government, and if I didn't stand this could be at risk'.
I'm presently standing upwind from this particularly smelly pile of poo.
This is the same Lianne Dalziel who, only a few short months ago, was shedding tears in public after the overwhelming majority of submissions from eastern Christchurch residents on the council's Long Term Plan criticised her for ignoring the plight of the quake-hit Eastside. Although Dalzeil apologised and promised to do better, she has failed to deliver on that promise.
This is also the same Lianne Dalziel who ignored the over 90 percent of submissions to the Long Term Plan that said they were opposed to both the rates hike and asset sales and went ahead with her pro-corporate agenda anyway.
Perhaps an alternative and progressive mayoral candidate to Lianne Dalziel might emerge but with the local body elections only five months away, that's extremely unlikely. The fix is in and, as far as the pro-Dalziel local media are concerned, that's all just fine and dandy.