Criminals can stand for council in Marlborough (clearly they value experience!)

They say there’s no hiding your past, but that shouldn’t put you off running for council.

With no statutory obligation on candidates to disclose criminal convictions – and no penalties for lying – pretty much anyone can run for office.

Marlborough District Council electoral officer Dean Heiford said there would be no police checks carried out on potential councillors in Marlborough.

A Department of Internal Affairs spokeswoman confirmed council hopefuls did not have to tell anyone about their criminal records.

Three years ago, a Waikato regional councillor hit the headlines after it was revealed he had been convicted of a bank robbery in Australia.

Heiford said electoral officers also did not have to check the accuracy of claims the candidates made in the short profile statements they had to supply.

So unlike most local body politicians that go on the trough and take once they are elected, in Marlborough you can be a convicted felon and simply not disclose you are a two-time bankrupt with a conviction for fraud.  Hell no… that would take all the fun out of it. 

Despite convictions not being a barrier, there were some people who were unable to stand for local body elections.

According to the Department of Internal Affairs those who had been under a compulsory mental health treatment order for more than three years could be disqualified in some circumstances.

People in prison or on the “corrupt practices list” for a particular district were unable to either vote in general elections, or stand for council.

Under the Local Electoral Act an application could be made for the cancellation of the nomination of a candidate if the candidate became incapacitated after the close of nominations but before the close of voting.

If an elected mayor or councillor was convicted of a crime punishable by two years’ imprisonment, they could lose their position.

University of Otago associate politics professor Janine Hayward said local body election rules were an example of “democracy, warts and all”.

It would be inappropriate for councils to be able to look into people’s pasts and decide who could or could not stand, she said.

“If people can stand legally then they are entitled to do so,” she said.

Warts and all?

Warts for wards.


– Stuff

  • XCIA

    When faced with this nonsense, is it any wonder that animals are elected as the mayor’s of many municipalities around the the globe.

  • phronesis

    I once considered running for council. My candidate statement would have said simply “Hasn’t been convicted of fraud”. The whole point was that the eventual winner had been, which seemed rather inappropriate to me.

  • Larry

    Bank robbery, Fraud, petty crime compared to the stuff they inflict on ratepayers after they are elected.