A tale of two cities + campaigns

With the Greens’ announcing that they’re going all in for the Dunedin council elections it begs the question – why aren’t they doing the same in Wellington?

Contrast the cone of silence that’s effectively been dropped in Wellington with the concerted push supporting Aaron Hawkin’s bid for the Dunedin City mayoralty and other council seats (campaign launches, media releases, websites, party resources, party leader support and endorsement, fundraising and volunteer recruitment), you have to wonder.

Is it because the Greens have put Celia Wade-Brown at arms distance since she supported outsourcing of council services and voted against fellow Green Councillor, Iona Pannett? Or is it that the Greens think she’s bad for their brand as the right-wing Whale Oil claims? Or does Celia think she can do it without them?

Wellington should be the jewel in the Greens’ local government crown. They have the mayoralty and other elected members and sympathizers, and like Dunedin, Wellington continues to deliver some of its highest amounts of party votes in general elections. But so far we haven’t seen any sign that the Greens see it that way and their slate of potential new candidates doesn’t really give that impression either.

Rumours are also circulating her 2010 campaign manager Kent Duston has either been fired or has decided to quit, and now her campaign team isn’t much wider than her husband, Alastair. This would be a great shame as Kent proved to be an incredibly astute and effective political operator and his work probably pushed Celia over the line.

How Celia responds to John Morrison’s recent entry into the mayoral race and enviable headlines in the past week will be critical. She needs to kick-start her campaign (and fix her website, below) soon.

Celia defeated Kerry Prendergast because her campaign took the initiative, caught the incumbent off-guard, fronted footed issues, and had strong grassroots support and volunteer networks. Prendergast on the other hand looked complacent, barely made an effort to campaign, and lacked any real campaign apparatus. Incumbency will be Celia’s biggest strength, but with only 112 days until ballot papers start arriving in letterboxes I fear Celia is falling to the same traps her predecessor did.

Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

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