Can council candidates take positions on issues?

Claims that councillors cannot vote in line with the positions they have taken as candidates need to be urgently clarified, says Paekākāariki Comnmunity Board candidate Sam Buchanan.

KCDC CEO Pat Dougherty stated that if councillors voted in line with previous public commitments, the decision could then become the subject of a judicial review.

“Given the huge impact this could have on the election campaign, we need to know the basis of this claim. Is it based on precedent – something established in case law – or is this just somebody’s intepretation of statutory law?” says Mr Buchanan.

“Has a judicial review actually overturned a council decision on the basis that councillors should not have voted after making previous promises?

“Section 82 of the Local Government Act simply requires the council, as a body, to be open-minded about information presented to them during consultation processes, and to give such information due consideration. Nothing in the act suggests councillors who have taken positions on a matter must not vote accordingly.

“It appears we are being told that candidates cannot make commitments to certain policies or views. This undermines the whole understanding of modern democratic representation – that we vote for candidates whose policies we support. Voters must then consider that a candidate supportive of their favoured policies can’t vote for them once elected, but is able to do a u-turn and vote against them. This seems absurd,” Mr Buchanan says.