Local elections really do matter

By the time you read this, your voting papers for council and community board elections will be either in or on their way to your mailbox.

Please (and I’m pretty much begging you here), don’t put them to one side, don’t throw them in the bin, don’t think they have nothing to do with you, because they really, really do.

The decisions that local council and boards make have a far greater impact on your day-to-day life than those that come out of Wellington, yet people take less interest in local elections than national ones.

It’s truly one of the great mysteries to me.

Another mystery is why young people take even less interest than other demographics.

The decisions we make are often long-term ones, perhaps dealing with a 10-year budget, or a 30- or 50-year infrastructure plan, so those decisions will impact on younger people more than older ones because they will more likely still be around to reap the benefits or deal with the consequences.

This election more than ever, we need elected members who are up to the job.

There has never been a more important or more challenging term than the one ahead.

The Three Waters reforms, like it or not, will mean huge change to the organisation, as will the Resource Management Act reforms.

But the Future for Local Government reform discussions that are happening now and will conclude this coming term are the ones that offer the greatest threats and opportunities to us moving forward.

We need, particularly around the council table, people who are equipped to handle that challenge.

It is, of course, up to you to decide who to vote for, but please do some background work before making that decision.

The booklet that comes with the election papers is a great place to start.

What do people stand for, what’s their experience in life, who had the faith in them to put their names forward to nominate them?

These are all great questions to start with.

If you have the time, attend one of the ‘‘meet-the-candidates’’ meetings, or if you want to get a feel for the abilities of current elected members, invest some time watching a recording of a council or board meeting on the Central Otago District Council website.

Whatever method you take to make your decision, please put some time and thought into it so that we have the best people around our tables to lead our wards and Central Otago into the future.

Voting papers must be in by noon on October 8.