There’s been a bit of talk about candidate scorecards, and how well they reflect the actual intentions of our would-be representatives once they get into power.
The Traffic Jam’s been thinking about this too, and decided to do a little research of its own to compliment the two Transport Hui it helped to organise last month.
The task was simple; go through the full Wellington City Council minutes from the past term, tallying where representatives had supported motions with a public or active transport agenda against those addressing the needs of private motorists.
I didn’t count votes where the motion’s beneficiary was unclear (“is this a cars first thing or not? If I was in doubt I left it out). I also ignored motions where the votes of individual candidates went unrecorded.
I then calculated a “score” – Heaven help me – based on the ratio of pro-public/active transport votes to the number of pro-road votes. A score of one or more, means over the past term a councillor has gone public/active more than they’ve gone motorcar, at least in the open sessions of full council meetings.
The numbers in brackets (*/*) represent votes for a public/active transport agenda verses votes supporting the interests of car users.
This is what I found, from highest to lowest. If you’re after a lobbyist for the private motorist, scroll down.
- Iona Pannett (Lambton Ward) 16.0 (16/1)
- Fleur Fitzsimons* (Southern) 2.75 (11/4)
- Chris Calvi-Freeman (Eastern) 2.4 (12/5)
- David Lee** (Southern) 2.4 (12/5)
- Simon Marsh (Eastern) 2.2 (11/5)
- Peter Gilberd (Northern) 1.83 (11/6)
- Justin Lester (Mayor) 1.67 (10/6)
- Sarah Free (Eastern) 1.29 (9/7)
- Nicola Young (Lambton) 1.29 (9/7)
- Diane Calvert (Onslow -Western) 1.13 (9/8)
- Brian Dawson (Lambton) 1.13 (9/8)
- Jill Day (Northern) 1.0 (7/7)
- Andy Foster (Onslow-Western) 0.88 (8/9)
- Malcolm Sparrow (Northern) 0.88 (8/9)
- Simon Woolf (Onslow-Western) 0.55 (6/11)
* Fleur Fitzsimons replaced Paul Eagle in 2017, when the latter became a Parliamentary MP.
** David Lee is standing down as a Wellington City Councillor, but you can still vote for him on the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
A few trends I’d expected, but also a few surprises. Iona Pannett tops the list by a clear margin. Chris Calvi- Freeman has been public in his support of the Let’s Get Welly Moving programme, but Peter Gilberd’s and Simon Marsh’s voting records were more in favour of public and active transport than their statements at the first Talking Transport Hui suggested.
Justin Lester’s in the upper middle of the pack, as is Sarah Free. Her support of the Island Bay Cycleway, was balanced by her advocacy for free weekend parking.
Despite being one of the most vocal supporters of a second Mt Victoria Road Tunnel, Diane Calvert comes out on the active/public side by virtue of her endorsement of the revised Island Bay Cycleway. Along with Andy Foster and Iona Pannett, she also voted for Let’s Get Welly Moving to investigate better use of buses and rapid transit, and lobby central government for a regional fuel tax.
Jill Day’s voting record didn’t quite match her strong public/active talk at the Transport Hui. Perhaps politics – and Day’s position as deputy mayor – played a role in this. Iona Pannett was prepared to join Calvert and Foster in some renegade votes on Let’s Get Welly Moving. Jill Day stayed with the pack.
Andy Foster’s support for a second road tunnel, and his advocacy of free parking during the weekends, puts him on the road side of the equation, along with Malcolm Sparrow (another advocate of free weekend parking).
The strongest supporter for the roads lobby, or at least leaving the roads as they are, was Simon Woolf. He joined Foster and Calvert in calling for a second Mt Victoria Tunnel, voted to keep free parking at the weekends, and was a lone voice against the revised Island Bay Cycleway plan.
Based on voting records, advocates of public and active transport are fairly evenly spread across the city’s five wards, with the exception of Onslow-Western.
As an exercise, this survey of one term’s worth of full council minutes has its limits, but it does throw a bit of extra light on the position of some candidates, and maybe underlines the need for more research on others, of which plenty is available.
For a regional perspective, especially on policies addressing carbon emissions this one from The Common Climate Network is well worth checking.
The rest is up to you.
Oh, and one last thing.
I would have liked to have done the same thing for the last term of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, but its minutes don’t record who votes for what. Perhaps that lack of public record (and the discipline which comes with it) was one of the reasons its councillors were so careless over the introduction of Wellington’s new bus network and the premature removal of its electric trolley buses (turns out those new battery electrics weren’t ready after all).
I think about that every time I wait at a hub facing away from the shops and into the wind, or take in another breath of diesel filled air downtown (while blocking my ears to keep out the noise).
I’m hoping for more openness from the GWRC next term, for their sake as well as ours.