Ryde Election

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I recently put myself forward as a candidate for these elections. You can see my statement here. I received around 100 votes, around 0.5%. Not so many, but it was better than the 0.3% that the Democratic Labor Party made in Central Ward last election, and I think compares reasonably well to the 1.3% I received at the Federal election, when I was an endorsed Pirate Party candidate.

I appreciate those that chose to vote for me, whether you already knew me or decided on the day, or have pirate party sympathies or thought my particular approach had merit. Or whatever. I appreciate it.

Partly for you who voted for me, partly for other members of the Pirate Party, and partly for general interest I've decided to write this review after the event. While the name "Pirate Party" does put some people off, I see it as a lightning rod for the disquiet many of us have felt about the current system. I think many of us believe in the "fair go", but somehow the layers of bureaucracy, government and the impenetrable legal thicket have left us wondering where we have ended up. Now, that is an easy thing to say, but I suggest that the Pirate Party have figured out a lot of the problem here, without being dominated by vested interests or particular ideologies, and our principles and policies do illustrate this. I write more about this in my candidates' statement.

We had people at several booths, but their presence did not really seem to affect the number of people voting for me. It seems that people who voted for me had made up their minds before they arrived at the booths.

At least for the most part - the average vote was 0.47%, and this improved on election day in the booths where we had people to 0.5% - not much improvement. At the Federal election, having people at the booths roughly doubled the percentages. That was not the case here. However, the pre-poll vote for me was about 0.9% - rather higher. I've even done a statistical analysis. Based on a few assumptions, there's 15% odds that would have happened by chance. It does not reach statistical significance - but it is pretty suggestive. I'd make decisions based on it. Still, postal votes were around 0.8%. Perhaps it really was different, but not just because myself and a few others were handing out voting information. Maybe pre poll voters were more willing to engage with election material.

I also had around 100 hits on my statement in the lead up to the election; to me, this suggests that people who were willing to read it saw something worthwhile. Still, I did out-poll the Democratic Labor Party, also, it seems, below the line, and not doing as well as me. Perhaps being above the line would have been better, or having a graphic of the ballot paper for a how to vote in the election information. Still, it was enough of a task to run this particular campaign, and going above the line would have been a lot more difficult.

While handing stuff out at the booths may not have gained many votes, it was certainly worthwhile to reach out to other candidates and volunteers. Most volunteers were interested - only one or two ran the line of "why are you bothering, what do you hope to achieve" - and while I will not identify those who made this challenge - invariably Liberal Party volunteers were polite and never said this ( it has been different during Federal elections). Of course, the response to this is "You fight the good fight, not because you will necessarily win, but because the good fight is worth fighting". That normally spooks them.

Putting those minor negatives aside, it was a great experience. I have been trying to get more involved in and more aware of local issues for the last few years. Listening to the other candidates at candidates forums, talking to the other candidates and volunteers, I feel that my level of awareness has gone up a notch. I do plan to continue to take an interest in council affairs, perhaps get involved in the committees on council, and talk to more people involved. Perhaps, even write more stuff on this webpage relevant to the Ryde area, in addition to letters to the editor of the local papers. We'll see.

Bec and her group were particularly friendly and supportive, and Jane Stott smiled at one of my jokes - I think she may even have laughed. Peter Kim and Penny Pedersen, Labor, were also quite friendly - I noted the Korean film "Snowpiercer" to Peter, I don't think he had heard of it before the campaign. But, yes, there were lots of people I met and I am not going to try to name them all. Some were nice enough to click like my posts on the Ryde Candidates Facebook page ( much as my relationship with Facebook is a love-hate one, and more hate recently ).

Since the election, I did take the time to check past election records. Maybe I should have done that right at the start, but better late than never and I did have a lot on my plate.

What I found was that you could, broadly speaking, divide the vote into those that voted for the Liberal Party, and those that did not. If you did not vote for the Liberal Party, you might vote for Labor, Greens or a strong independent. When there's a strong independent, people leave Labor, Greens and the others for them. When a strong independent is no longer standing, their votes will then end up with Labor, Greens, smaller parties and less prominent independents. A strong independent can outpoll the minor parties - or even in some cases, the Labor Party. There may of course be loyal Labor voters similar to loyal Liberal voters, but variation in the Labor vote is much more apparent.

In the West Ward, back in 2012, 31% voted Liberal. In this election, it was around 31%. In Central back, it was previously 34% and this election, around 33% ( this analysis is based on preliminary figures, before the final count - but I'm sure the conclusions would still be sound).

During the campaign, at forums, and in discussions with others at the booths, a lot of things came up : the partisan nature of recent council debate, the state Liberal Government's Council amalgamation agenda, issues with development, the worth of being "independent" to the major parties - or even parties full stop, and factional issues within the Liberal Party. (It did seem "independent" was a word like "freedom" that people liked to bang on about.) In any case, these issues did not seem to affect regular Liberal voters that much in Ryde. I understand that in other councils ( at least in Canada Bay), the Liberal vote did take a hit. That's a surprise. But I know from information theory that surprises have the most information, and it's all worth taking on board.

It would seem the buzz around council amalgamation was not reflected in the overall voting record. We could wonder what is different between, say, Ryde and Canada Bay, but I'll leave that analysis to others. If you figure something out, let me know! Of course, it could have affected a few voters, and it is possible that the Liberal Party vote included some churn in the background, but I think it more likely the same people have been voting.

In all cases, the Labor Party vote increased, but it is not clear whether this was an endorsement of Labor or the result of a changing mix of independents. Regardless, it seems the concerns about polarisation in council debate or the worth of being "independent" to any major party did not seem to hit the Labor vote in a big way. You could say polarisation is about all sides being obstinate. Or you could say that the opposing sides were just holding to their principles. Take your pick.

The one exception to this "stable Liberal Party vote" was that for Roy Maggio in East Ward, the ward I was standing in. About 20% of people voted for him, and the Liberal Party vote in East Ward dropped from about 40% to 30%. I think it likely that all this drop went to Roy, with the remainder coming from the pool of not-Liberal votes.

During the campaign, I was playing a game - spot the person who did not know Roy. And, indeed, Roy knew a lot of people. While I'm a member of numerous groups, relatively few are based in Ryde. There's the Ryde District Historical Society, and while I've not joined, I've been paying attention to the Ryde Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society. But when it comes to sports and other groups - groups which are "naturally" local - it is clear that Roy has an advantage, together with his prominence amongst local businesses. I recall him being gracious in inviting us in for sandwiches during a council meeting, and he was quite friendly on the campaign trail, something that would be reflected more broadly. An ex-Liberal, he could make a good appeal based on his record. And, it would seem this was the one thing that could attract Liberal Party voters. Not concern about development. Not concern about state Government based council amalgamation. Not concern about polarisation on Council. But, rather, personal standing and past record - at least in general terms, and perhaps as against the Liberal candidate. Intriguing.

So, it's all been good. I learnt a lot. I made a lot of mistakes I was able to learn from. Thanks again to those amongst you who voted for me, and for those that did not, I appreciate your interest.