Your city needs you: Why you should run in this year's local elections
By Justin Hu (he/him)
Candidate nominations have just opened for our city's local elections, and a youth voting advocate is encouraging uni students to put their names forward.
Why should you run though? After all, local government does tend to be a bit more sleepy than central government. However, alongside wheelie-bin maintenance and street naming responsibilities, it's important to remember that your local council makes decisions that will fundamentally affect your day-to-day life in Tāmaki Makaurau.
These decisions cover a swath of different areas - whether that's the local community groups that receive funding, the kinds of buses and trains that AT decides to run, or whether it's legal to build townhouses and apartments in your neighbourhood.
Make It 16's co-director Sanat Singh told Debate that he encourages students and young people to consider running.
"We know the issues we face as a city, let alone a country, are going to be disproportionately felt by young people."
"So, if young people want to make progress on these issues in their spheres of influence, local government is one of the key steps they can take."
The decisions being made at Auckland Council affect your daily life as much as, or even more than the ones in the Beehive. You'd think those kinds of big decisions would call for a diverse, representative group of leaders… you'd think.
But local government across Aotearoa is fatally unrepresentative of the people they serve. Analysis by Stuff's Charlie Mitchell prior to the last local elections found that only seven percent of local reps were under 40. Meanwhile, 83% were older than 51.
"We know that local government is inherently
unrepresentative. Not only are they mostly white, they're mostly male and they're mostly older people," Singh said.
"I think the unrealised potential for local government is around community action for climate change, or harm prevention with drug and alcohol abuse. There's a lot of unrealised potential."
Singh also advocates for the voting age to be lowered to 16 as the co-director of the Make It 16 campaign. Candidate nominations for this year's local elections close on August 12th. Learn more about how to become a candidate at voteauckland.co.nz Find out more about Make It 16 at makeit16.org.nz