What just happened in Wellington should be a warning to mayors around the country.
You work for your ratepayers: no one else. And if you don’t do that, your ratepayers will throw you out.
That is the long and short of what has just happened to Justin Lester.
He got tossed out of Wellington’s mayoralty this past weekend after only one term. That’s the first time in 33 years that Wellington’s had a gutsful of a mayor in just one term, usually they get another go around, maybe another two, but not Lester.
On paper, Lester should’ve been back in the job today, and probably in three years from now again, because he is a Labour mayor and Wellington is a Labour town.
Every national election for how long now, Wellington elects Labour MPs, or former Labour MPs, and gives most of its party votes to Labour.
So if Lester had that advantage, why’d he get tossed out? Because he wasn’t working for ratepayers. It felt like he sold them out.
Like everywhere in the country, Wellington’s roads are jammed up. He said he was going to fix it, he was going to get tunnels and roads and get the city flowing, but Government said no, you’re getting a tram set first.
And he said OK, we’ll take that tram set first, and he went to ratepayers and said this is a good deal and ratepayers knew it wasn’t. And ratepayers thought what was really going on was that he was trying to help his mates in a labour-led government get what they want, not what ratepayers want.
And ratepayers got sick of that and gave him the boot.
So that’s a lesson to mayors: you work for us, you don’t work for the Beehive.
And there’s a lesson for the beehive here too. A Labour town just threw out a Labour mayor. This government shouldn’t take for granted that its supporters will put it back in power. You have to deliver.
And transport is a big issue. It’s like that in Wellington, it’s like that everywhere. All over this country, people are stuck in cars, trying to get to work, trying to get to the airport.
Keep saying no to fixing that up, that is a vote loser. Just ask Justin Lester.