Local elections loom

by Mike Isle

With slightly fewer candidates on offer, this year’s Selwyn District Council elections may not be as competitive as previous elections, but there is still plenty to entice voters.

Overall, there are 20 candidates vying for the 12 seats on the council, including the mayoralty compared to 23 candidates for the 2016 election.

This year there are two candidates, incumbent Sam Broughton and former mayor Bill Woods, putting their names forward for the mayoralty, compared to the packed field of five that stood in 2016. The most contested of the district’s three wards is the Malvern Ward with four candidates standing for the two available seats. The ward with the most candidates is Selwyn Central Ward, which has seven candidates vying for its four seats.

As well as the council positions, elections are being held for two mid-Canterbury seats on the board of Environment Canterbury and seven members for the Canterbury District Health Board. Voter turnout is once again likely to be an issue. Historically, local body elections attract fewer voters than general elections the most recent of which had a voter turnout of 79 per cent.

In the 2016 local body election, the voter turnout nationwide was 42 per cent. Selwyn did slightly better at 44.6 per cent.Local Government New Zealand says its research showed that the main reasons people gave for not voting are they forgot, ran out of time or were too busy. Statistics provided by New Zealand Electoral Commission show that 89.96 per cent of Selwyn’s 58,720 eligible voters have enrolled to vote, slightly higher than the national average.

This year’s local body election will once again be postal. The Selwyn District Council says that enrolled voters should receive their voter packs through the mail from approximately September 20 to 25. Voting closes midday Saturday, October 12. Further information about voting and candidate profiles are on the council’s website selwyn.govt.nz.