In Christchurch we have two main contenders for Mayor in the upcoming local body elections. Jim Anderton (current MP for Wigram, and leader of the Progressive Party), and the incumbent, Bob Parker.

Now it’s VERY fair to say that Bob has not been a popular Mayor with many.  Some of the major financial decisions of the council (that Bob, as Mayor supported) have been very unpopular such as:

I don’t intend to go into the details of each decision, but suffice it to say for many the decisions appeared highly questionable, and at worst a complete waste of millions of (rate payers) dollars.  I will comment on the last one and say buying an event that has the name of an Auckland Suburb and then moving it seams, well,  STUPID to me.  You could just offer to pay the people that set Ellerslie up to set one up for you – you still get all the IP without the name (which you don’t want anyway), but for a fraction of the cost.  But yeah, lets move on.

At the end of July 2010 it was pretty clear Jim would win, with Stuff reporting on the Christchurch Mayoral race:

A UMR research poll conducted in Christchurch last month showed long-serving MP Jim Anderton comfortably leading the race for the mayoralty against incumbent Bob Parker. Some 61% of those polled said that in a head-to-head race they would vote for the Wigram MP, while only 30% said they would vote for Parker.

Politics aside, my biggest concerns with Jim Anderton has been:

  1. His arrogance that he can be a part time Mayor and Part time MP, and the cost to the rate payer and tax payer if he does this
  2. He’s out of touch.  He’s 72, and has views so tainted by personal experience that IMHO, he’s not fit for ANY public office where he gets to make decisions about controlling the behavior of others (his archaic views on drug control are just one of these)

My biggest concerns with Bob is that:

  • Bob wastes ratepayers money on big projects, and does what so many in local government do, and does stuff and builds things that’s more about leaving a legacy than actually helping the ratepayers and local community.

I do want to expand on my first concern about Jim, that he thinks he can be both Mayor NZ’s second biggest city AND an MP/leader of a political party at the same time (and be paid for both).

David Farrar of KiwiBlog has done an excellent summary of the costs of this:

He is insisting that if he runs, he will not resign as an MP, but do both jobs. Now I think one can reasonably assert it is possible to be, for example, a junior backbencher and a city councillor. Tough, but not impossible. But to assert that one can be Mayor of New Zealand’s second largest city, and also a party leader in Parliament shows what Jim really thinks of the people. The Mayor got paid salary and fees in the last year of $215,000 and Jim is maintaining that it is a part-time job.Jim will in fact be a triple dipper. Because he will also be maintaining the fiction he is a party leader, and attract appropriate funding for that role. So what will be the total cost to the taxpayer of Jim continuing as an MP and party leader for a year, if he is elected. It is:

  1. Salary $144,500
  2. Superannuation $33,235
  3. Personal Expenses $14,800
  4. Leader’s Budget $164,320
  5. Research Budget $20,000
  6. Support Budget $64,260
  7. Staff $158,500
  8. Travel/Accom $73,827
  9. Communications $13,942

That is a total cost of $689,384 or almost $700,000.

So all up that around 1 MILLION dollars between the two roles.

Anyway .. this has come back to bite Jim, and HARD. With the recent earthquakes in Christchurch, it has become very clear that we need a full time major (Parliament sits Tues, Wed, Thur most weeks, we Jim would be Mayor on Monday and Friday only), and secondly Bob Parker’s media background has paid off and he’s come across as exactly what a Mayor of a city during a crisis needs to be: confidant, committed, reassuring. 

Jim is even so arrogant (or is it stupid?) that he recently came out reaffirming his position (and accusing the media of being vultures while he was at it!). Bad move Jim, VERY bad.  I think you just gave the election to Bob. While I have not seen any new polls, anecdotal evidence would suggest a huge surge for Bob, based on the whole part time Mayor thing, together with the fact that Bob is actually doing a great job right now.

Anyway, so for me the choice is easy.  It’s the lesser of the two evils.  An incumbent who wastes money, or an out of touch challenger who thinks he can be part time Mayor and attacks the media for pointing this out.

Bob, you get my tick.  Just stop wasting my money OK?

Black and White Version: Neither of the two main contenders for Mayor of Christchurch are perfect, but one at least is genuine.  Bob get’s the tick from me.

Update 27th Sept 2010: Check out my post on how Jim also breaks the law, it has some rather useful info.

Update 12th Sept 2010: Scoop announced Jim will resign if he’s elected Mayor. (HatTip: Michael Payne – thanks!)

I think this is BETTER than his previous position, but:

  1. How on earth did he think it was OK b4?  (shows VERY poor judgment – and I want a Mayor with good judgment!)
  2. He should resign as an MP NOW.  He’s campaigning on parliamentary time.  He’s paid to be an MP, not a mayoral candidate.

PS: I wonder if he will still be donating his Mayor’s salary to community groups? :-) I guess not.

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