[Ed note about being anonymous - don't shoot the messenger].
These excellent questions from candidate Kevin Taylor (in blue - our response in black):
Thank you for the invitation forwarded yesterday to meet with you. I further acknowledge the questionnaire you sent out earlier. Given that you state clearly on your web-page you are, "...an independent lobby group..." I have a few questions that would assist me in responding to you appropriately.
Your responses would be appreciated.
1) How long has your group been in existence?
2) What is your membership and what on basis were the three members named in your website appointed to conduct the process you have commenced. IE. What is your mandate and who gave it to you?
We have 10 panel members (a few who prefer to remain anonymous) who will be analyzing the questionnaires, along with discussions with others. We have contact with hundreds of others via email lists, personal contacts and advertisements.
No-one 'gave us' a mandate - we did it ourselves as no-one else has - for the better assessment of candidates which has been sadly lacking in the past.
3) As a lobby group who specifically are you lobbying for?
The best candidates.
4) Given that you have assigned weightings to candidates well prior to any responses to your questionnaire were received, on what basis did you reach those recommendations?
These are tentative assessments. They are based on general discussions with locals who know these candidates and whether their past performance (or lack of) indicates whether they are suitably qualified.
5) How do you reconcile the apparent bias already demonstrated in your web-page with any sense of objectivity or the provision of a level playing field?
See 4 above. It is an on-going process and depends largely on the openness of candidate being willing to share their views with us. The idea is to pick the best candidates which is inherently biased towards those best qualified.
6) Is it your intention to 'tell' people how to vote or will you like other credible websites, for example https://www.policylocal.nz/ provide information sourced from candidates and allow people to make up their own minds?
No, we can't tell voters how to vote any more than candidates can. We are just making recommendations. Some candidates have refused to answer our questionnaire which limits our ability to assess them.
7) You appear to have 'cherry picked' exerts from both council minutes and the media to provide commentary on current councillors Harvey & Rankin. How widely have you looked for such information? Given the vast resource of council minutes why specifically have you chosen such a small excerpt? Will you provide balance by publishing further excerpts both positive and/or negative?
They represent some poor decisions or performance from these candidates that reflect our concerns with them. We are happy to post any information about candidates (e.g. the questionnaire) but also want to provide information that reflects poor performance. There has been no information provided to us to counter these postings. Feel free to forward information for our consideration.
8) Coming back to your 'assessment' of candidates please respond to the following:
8.1 What qualifications do each of you have to provide such an assessment?
Many years of experience in business, politics, local affairs, council dealings, with a common sense, practical, fair, educated, intelligent and critical analysis approach.
8.2 What criteria will be used in your assessment?
The main principles as outlined in the website and in the candidates 'handbook'.
8.3 What process have you gone through to confirm your assessment will achieve a robust and reliable outcome that can be objectively viewed?
We have an 'arm's length' approach to candidates (re their campaigns and finances) as recommended by the Electoral Office. We have asked candidates to respond to the questionnaire and to meet to discuss their views. We have talked to many others who have had direct experience with candidates.
The candidates, after all, will only present their subjectively biased view of themselves, so we are presenting a full as possible evaluation for the benefit of all voters. It's called democracy.