Nearly 50% of Elected Officials face Racism and Sexism. So Why Run?
Ten days ago I submitted my application for Thames Community Board for the upcoming local government elections.
Today, I’ve been systematically going through the documents I’ve been sent — the pre-election report, the candidates manual (again) and echats —a ‘collection of expert tips and tricks that covers a range of topics including climate change, community boards, and running for local government.’
Community Board members can expect to spend 10–15 hours a week in the role, which includes reading all relevant material, attending meetings, engaging with the community, and representing the board.
The salary for this is $10,000. Assuming 48 weeks, and the lower end of estimated hours, it’s approximately $20/hour.
Potential members are warned they will likely not be able to maintain a full-time job whilst also representing their community.
‘Representing’ one’s community means getting up to speed on the plethora of issues facing local councils around the country — climate crisis, infrastructure needs, housing shortages, services delivery and governance requirements.
Today, one of the headline articles in Stuff read ‘Auckland mayoralty: Tearful Efeso Collins ‘tired of being called a coconut’.
Collins, who is one of the front-runners in the Auckland Mayoral race, was emotional as he talked about the racism he faces on the campaign trail and the impact on his family. And, he also pointed out that he was wary about even speaking about this because he would likely be accused of “playing the race card’.
This, after a Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) survey reported that ‘43% experienced other forms of harassment, prejudice, threatening or derogatory behaviour since taking public office.’
Misogyny and racism are still rife in our society, because they are tried and true methodologies for wielding power — ‘other’ your opponent, and then denigrate them based on an aspect of their identity. It’s downright mean, no matter what guise it comes under.