If you live in Hamilton chances are pretty high you've been out to The Base, the largest shopping complex in New Zealand.
It's so shiny and new, has so many shops and 3000 free car parks. Its promise as a great shopping destination is laid bare all over their Fashion Hunter billboards but when you get there you start to realise that perhaps it's not as special as you'd been led to believe.
Staff cars are perched on hills in paddocks next to empty car park lots, there are traffic lights next to roundabouts, pedestrian crossings that don't take customers where they want to go, new shops behind construction sites, conspicuously empty shop spaces and the same generic stuff you find in every mall in New Zealand . It's not special but they try really hard to make sure you don't think that.
Well that's how many candidates have been running this election - shiny and soulless and in many ways these campaigns have been killing the CBD of other candidate's campaigns.
Take New Direction: New Council. Their advertising has been getting prolific this last few weeks, signs that spin, buying the front page of the local papers. angry rants attacking people on Facebook who don't like their spam and Hamilton's own Davros, Ray Stark, paying lots to sway people.
It's a lot of effort to make people remember their names but ignore the fact their policies would make Hamilton a cultural wasteland akin to Tantooine. Oh crap - Tantooine has pod races still - bad example, sorry.
Yet candidates with more passion and more heart struggle to make the same traction.
Look at people like Ross MacLeod. Here's an artist, a writer, an actor who loves Hamilton, who is the only candidate with a real background in the arts with great videos, common sense ideas and a disabled talking dinosaur friend called Fernando. He's the exact sort of person Hamilton should be celebrating.
Then there's Anjum Rahman, who I'm worried is going to be this elections Mark Servian. She is the candidate who would do the most amazing job on council, whose campaign has been innovative, informative and showcased exactly why they need to be on Council and still miss out after apathetic voters go with names that sound familiar but would be a massive mistake.
Anjum is the only candidate I know of that straddles the field of Community worker and accountant, has been using her Facebook page to promote a massive amount of community events and it worries me Hamilton will miss out on her passion in favour of falling for a name they saw when they walked out of Chartwell Square.
Yep I'm old school - it will always be Chartwell Square in my head. The great thing about Mark though is that even though he didn't win, he's still making positive change around the city - spearheading the pro-STV campaign and I have no doubt Anjum would still be heavily involved in the community, no matter the results on Saturday - I just think she'd rock the place being in there.
The same problem plagues the Regional Council. I'm concerned that people like Tony Armstrong and his sister, the Dursley's of local politics, will get in at the expense of candidates that can actually think for themselves. If we're lucky an angry wizard will inflate them and let them, and the whole Rates Control Team blow away in the cool river breezes. There are independent candidates on offer that can answer their own questions that should be there more.
This election has been one of the nastiest I've ever seen - candidates taking pot shots at each other, attack pages online, misinformation and apathy in bucket loads.
It's a lolly scramble to try and get into the news, to gain that little bit of free traction - yet it's the extreme negative antics of a couple manipulating the public that make the news, because they're extreme - while the hard working candidates, out there door knocking, meeting voters and going about already helping their communities, candidates like Holly Snape and Tureiti Morgan, get overlooked simply because they're not getting into mud flinging as a way to break out of the large pack of candidates.
My big problem though is that I can't force you to vote how I would - I'm not John Key after all. All I can ask is that you do vote but don't buy into the hype - vote for someone who is more than rhetoric and fake smiles.
Support the CBD of election candidates, tying hard to get your attention with integrity instead of flashing superficiality under your nose.
Paul is still New Zealand's youngest Mayoral candidate, supports STV but feels Palpatine's moves in the Galactic Senate are dangerous. He's also promising to run for Council in 3 years if Hamilton voters screw up this election and vote Skeletor into council.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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