Electing councillors can be a lottery.
So I read with interest a recent article by Keith Marshall on the very topic. Its a good read and no doubt the voice of experience. Keith being a former Nelson City Council chief executive (see link below).
Whether an incumbent councilor performed well in their last term and deserves re-election, or a new candidate has the skills and experience to add value to council performance is hard to measure. An obvious measure for new candidates are the skills and experience they can bring to the council table. Do they offer something that is either missing from council or would add to the overall mix of skills on council. Finally, would council benefit from a fresh perspective and new ideas?
Against these measures is the performance of the incumbent. Did they attend enough meetings to make a contribution. Did they speak up at council at the meetings they attended? Did they do what they said they would do? Did they vote on issues the way they said they would? Are they accessible and open to hearing from the public and speaking up for the public? Have they been there to long? Is it time for change?
Some councillors will actively step down for the benefit of a refreshed council. The risk of overstaying is that one can lose perspective of issues in terms of the wider context. Others will not, and sometimes require a gentle nudge.
I have been told working on council is very much like herding cats.
According to Keith, a good skill to have on council is the ability to persuade. “Sure, it is important to have someone taking that “no rises” stance, but surely the ultimate measure of their actual effectiveness is whether or not they can enrol and convince their colleague elected members not to put the rates up. And if they can’t effectively get the result they say they want (as is clearly demonstrated by continual rates rises over many years), then should we keep voting them in instead of trying a new, and hopefully much more successful, candidate”.
My own experience is one of law. The aim of that game is to persuade. Further, as a former publisher of legal text books I often had to recruit and work with a diverse group of academic personalities. Persuading a group of academics to all row together on the same boat, in the same direction, is like herding cats. And I have been a very successful herder of cats (and publisher of academic publications).