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26.11.09

Technology and the Wellington mayoralty: it’s time for real democracy 

Here we are in 2009, looking at the local body elections in 10½ months’ time.
   I’m seeing the same old approaches to the campaigns. My opponents are, largely, doing the ‘Vote for me’ approach, and there is the ‘Vote for this’ with the fielding of a team of élites claiming to represent the people of Wellington’s best interests.
   What about, I wonder, ‘Vote for us’, the Wellingtonians like you and me?
   We are in an age where real democracy is within reach. Our elected officials can, ideally, have blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. As well as face-to-face meetings with citizens, we can engage people and hear their thoughts directly.
   No more intermediaries, no more polls. The technology exists for us to hear directly from Wellingtonians.
   When I set up the Your Wellington website (yourwellington.org), in advance of my own mayoral campaign announcement, I signalled that the next mayor is not someone who has his own agenda.
   The next mayor is a mayor who pushes the agenda of all Wellingtonians, based on what is learned from them through citizen engagement.
   I have put up some basic issues as springboards for discussion. There are some areas where I am a specialist, but I would be very arrogant to claim that I know it all.
   Over the next nine months, we will build this website to cover more and more issues.
   By the time of the local body elections on October 9, 2010, I will have presented myself as a candidate who has listened and is going forward representing what the people of Wellington have told me they want.
   The Your Wellington blog will continue if I am elected as a Mayor for all Wellingtonians, as a means through which we can respond to city policies as we see fit, rather than demand we attend council meetings to voice our concerns. I will also spearhead other social media tools through which Wellingtonians can have a say in our city.
   Local body elections are notorious for the low turn-out of the 18–45 group. I have to wonder whether this is down to politicians’ failure to engage us or the sense of élitism that has driven away Wellingtonians’ hope and future.
   By saying that we all have a say in our future and using tools that have been around for years, Wellington can become a model city in true representation.
   In many respects, this is a 21st-century development of the face-to-face approach that Sir Francis Kitts was known for. But in a larger and more diverse city, we must employ technology to reach as many Wellingtonians as possible.
   I want Wellington to be a leader, both technologically and democratically. Throughout my 22 years in business, I have tried to show off just how great our city and our country are.
   And since I began blogging in 2003, I have tried to live the ideals of engagement and transparency. I haven’t suddenly emerged this year as a mayoral candidate because I want votes. My belief in this city, and my accessibility to all people, are a matter of record, especially online.
   Next year, I hope we will “vote for us”—namely, a mayor and council who believe that power resides in the people, not in the same-old arguments, personalities or élites.

PS.: Please note that the above is missing vital paragraphs linking these arguments to previous mayoral campaigns. Although I know I saved them in Eudora, it appears that the program elected not to obey me—just as Microsoft Word changes fonts and margins on us. Despite an intent to send the latest, saved version, this was the version that Eudora chose to send off to a colleague two days ago. I copied and pasted it from that email, assuming that my save was successful. Curiously, no record exists of the later versions of this text. I am rather annoyed at the moment, and I offer readers my sincerest apologies for serving to you what I consider a poorly written, half-baked entry; the consolation being that you see my thoughts in “raw” form. Yes, I do know how to use computers—and I am experienced enough to realize that there is such a thing as a “computer glitch” that occurs regardless of the most careful of keystrokes by humans.—JY
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Comments:
A refreshing approach Jack!

In all history, right now we are more connected than ever before. One person can create a massive movement using everyday tools available to us via the Internet.

Leaders that embrace this - not fight it or try to control it will bring swift change based on what the people want, rather than what a small – hard to talk to group decide for us.

It's a perfect time Jack! Good luck!  
Thank you, Greg. It will also bring more transparency—no more suspicions about closed-door deals going on, or questionable arbitration. Let’s hope all of Wellington can get behind these ideas and we become a model city.  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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