Bay FM – Chairman v Chairperson

Kia ora koutoa katoa, I’m Paul Bailey, Hawke’s Bay Regional Councilor.

There has been much said about the decline in voter turn out in local body elections. I think we can all agree that it is of concern. There have been any number of reasons put forward why the turn out has declined.

We need on line elections, lets go back to using ballot boxes instead of postal votes, it’s the media’s fault.

Personally I think it’s because local bodies have become irrelevant to many citizens. They no longer seem to speak for, or represent them. I think this is especially so amongst younger, and minority voters.

It came as no surprise to me to see as the first item on the agenda at the first council meeting I attended was The Election of Chairman. That’s right Election of Chairman. So I felt compelled to move a motion to amend the wording from Chairman to Chairperson.

This might seem like a very small matter but to me the use of the word Chairman undervalues the contribution that women make to society. I thought it was important that as a council we sent a message to all the woman of Hawke’s Bay that the Regional Council was going to move into the 21st century.

CEO Andrew Newman congratulated me by saying “we’ve just lurched forward twenty years” It makes you wonder what the current attitude towards woman is like inside the Regional Council is like if that’s the case.

A similar notion struck me when I saw the wording of council’s standard opening prayer. Not that there’s anything wrong with opening each meeting with a prayer or affirmation to remind councilors what we are there for, but by only having a Christian prayer many other sectors of our multicultural society were being ignored.

For example Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Pagens, Jedi place little or no importance on Jesus Christ so why should he be the only deity that Hawke’s Bay Regional Council defers to?

To me it’s an issue of inclusiveness and sending a message that every citizen’s view of the world is important. So that’s why I moved a motion to have the prayer reviewed. I’m happy to take any suggestions from listeners on what they think would be a suitable prayer or affirmation. Just email me at bailey4hbrc@gmail.com.

Thanks for listening, I’m Paul Bailey, Hawke’s Bay Regional Councilor.

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