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September 6, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial

You’ve probably heard of Kerry Prendergast. Love her or hate her, she’s the Mayor of Wellington City. She’s the one that thought the Wellywood sign was a good idea. Yeah, her. Remember?

In a few weeks time, if you’ve been organised enough to change your details on the electoral roll, you’ll get you chance to have a say on who leads this city for the next three years. It’s democracy in action, or something like that.

Turnout for local body elections has always been significantly lower than that for general elections—and young people are even less likely than the rest of the population to bother filling out their postal ballot forms and sending them back.

While, no doubt, apathy plays a significant part in our reluctance to vote in local body elections, a general lack of awareness of the function of local councils—not to mention District Health Boards—and what they do on a day-to-day basis means that we don’t feel like we have a vested interest or reason to participate.

Then, of course, there is the perception that the council is just a bunch of old people sitting around talking schmack about rates, water, roads and other unimportant shit. But think about it: Do you put your rubbish out to be collected in those yellow rubbish bags? How about that recycling? Have you got a resident’s permit to park your car on the street outside your house? Do you frequent any of the parks around the city, the Botans perhaps? This is all ‘stuff’ the council, and we as residents of Wellington, deal with every day.

The problem is that councils don’t often appear ‘relevant’ to young people. Attempts to get youth involvement or perspective can come across as token gestures, or they’re just plain fucking cheesy. Congrats to the Hutt City Council which has had thousands of responses to their first comprehensive youth survey. One hopes that the council will take the responses on board and work on some positive, youth-friendly policies and initiatives.

There’s only one way to change attitudes—those of councilors towards young people and vice versa—and that’s to get involved, take an interest in local issues that affect you and vote. Not voting means you basically waive your right to legitimately bitch and moan about stuff.

Next week: STV—is it as bad as an STI?

Also, wanna apply to edit this smutty rag next year? Check out the ad on page 33. Applications close 22 September. Want more info? Email editor@salient.org.nz, give us a call 04 463 6766 or pop into the office.

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About the Author ()

Editor for 2010, politics nerd, panda fan and three-time award-winning student journalist.

Comments (5)

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  1. Hi. You hit the problem for local government in terms of young people in ONE! Apathy. You don’t think we are relevant and we don’t seem to be able to get our relevance across to you.
    Being able to vote in a democracy is a priveledge we should all respect by voting. Young women know of the fight by women to get the vote; the first country in the world for women to win this right. So let’s all vote.
    We, the “bunch of old people sitting around talking…”, are actually trying to get more electronic messages out to your generation. What we need is more interaction with 18-25 year olds so that we’ll understand what you want to know and how to get our messages to you. We have a Youth Council which is secondary school age people. Maybe we should work together with your student leaders and set up a similar group with Tertiary student groups? I’ll be in touch after the election if I’m still mayor. Watch this space. Kerry

  2. smackdown says:

    kerry prendergast, just hanging out on the salient website, getting the best spot to see smackdown’s ace comments *puts on dem shadez*

  3. shitkicker says:

    Erm Kerry… you’ve had what? three terms? and NOW you’re going to engage with the young’ns? You old people are so slowwww

  4. Correct, ****kicker(!). We are pretty slow at this stuff. Remember, we saw the fax machine come into being when we were already your age… Kerry

  5. shitkicker says:

    don’t censor me kerry my parents chose my name don’t hate

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