We pride ourselves on living in a democracy where people have the opportunity to participate in government, but democracy is only as good as the level of public participation. Local body politics in a lightly populated region like Marlborough are nowhere near as exciting or contentious as elections for parliment, or for the likes of the new Auckland Super City, but they are still important.
Voting for who will make decisions on your water supply and sewage may not sound very exciting, but it's still important to have your say. As well as the boring but essential stuff like water, sewage and roading, the Marlborough District Council also has to make decisions on discretionary spending such as libraries, art galleries and sports facilities. While some people are of the opionion that councils should stick to core services only, and not provide any social services, they forget perhaps that social services and facilities help provide cohesion in society and add value to a community. By all means, private individuals and organisations should contribute as well, but there should always be clear leadership from local government.
Marlborough historically suffers from low wages, but good facilities at affordable prices help improve the quality of life in the region. For businesses that cannot afford to pay higher wages this is beneficial as it provides an incentive for people to live here, in spite of low pay and geographical isolation from larger centres. On the other hand, high rates are always unpopular, so there needs to be a balance between providing services and keeping costs to a reasonable level.
Of course different people have different ideas about what Marlborough needs most to make it a great place to live and work, and how to realise those ideas. It's easy to criticise, but it's not always so easy to come up with better ideas. If you are unhappy with the way council has been run for the last three years, vote for change, or perhaps even stand for election yourself, but be prepared to have some ideas. If you are happy with how things have been run, show your support for the councillors who have been working on your behalf. Whatever you do, don't sit back and do nothing. If you do nothing, you are betraying democracy.