What Issues Do You Want Local Elections Candidates to Talk About?

The local elections are coming up in May, we’ve been thinking a lot about how to cover them, and we have a plan. And we need a little help from you.

We cover Dublin City Council day in and day out, and there are basically two sides to it: the council officials and staff; and the 63 elected local councillors, who serve for five-year terms.

All 63 seats on the council are going to be up for grabs in a few months. (If you live in the area, and you are over 18, you are probably eligible to vote in this election, whether you are an Irish citizen or not.)

We want to cover this process in a way that is: a) useful and meaningful for you; and b) possible with our very limited resources. So here’s our plan.

Citizens’ Agenda

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has written about how to cover elections, and some of what he’s said really resonated with us.

“A very weird thing about horse race or ‘game’ coverage is that it doesn’t answer to any identifiable need of the voter,” Rosen has written. “Should I vote for the candidate with the best strategy for capturing my vote? Do I walk into the voting booth clutching a list of who’s ahead in the polls?”

Rather than trying to predict which candidate or party is going to win an election, and get behind the scenes on their internal debates and strategies for getting votes, campaign coverage should instead focus on getting candidates to talk about the issues voters want them to address.

Then voters can enter the voting booth clutching a list of candidates whose views they agree with on how to address issues they care about. So we plan to do this, in two steps, first working to understand what issues you care about, and then getting candidates to address them.

We are now in the midst of Step 1, building a “citizens’ agenda” of six or eight issues voters care about, which we can then get candidates to respond address. So here is the question:

“What do you want the candidates in the upcoming local elections to be discussing as they compete for votes?”

Please tell us in the comments below this article, or by emailing me at [email protected] or by Tweeting at us. However you want to communicate it, we want to hear from you.

Election Coverage

We’ve asked this question before, and we’re going to ask again later: we want to reach as many people as we can, and get as many responses as possible.

Once we feel we’ve finished building the citizens’ agenda, we’ll do our best to approach every candidate across the city running for a seat on Dublin City Council.

But instead of asking them what their platform is, or what their party’s platform is, or what their election posters will look like, we’re going to ask them how they plan to address the issues on the citizens’ agenda we’ve built.

Then we’ll publish their answers on our site, so you can search the site to find the candidates running in your electoral area, and read what they have to say about issues you care about. You’ll also be able to visit CouncilTracker.ie, and check how each of these councillors has voted in roll-call votes on a variety of issues on recent years.

Meanwhile, our journalists will use this citizens’ agenda, and candidates’ answers, to help them decide what stories to write in the run-up to the election. They’ll talk to some candidates in these stories, but won’t, of course, have a chance to speak with each one individually.

We hope this combination of the candidates’ responses to the issues on the citizens’ agenda, the candidates’ voting records on CouncilTracker.ie, and our journalists’ articles will help you make an informed choice on 24 May.

We've been covering stories like this since 2015, addressing the important issues in Ireland's capital. The work we do isn't possible without our subscribers. We're a reader funded cooperative. We are not funded or influenced by advertising.

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Sam Tranum: Sam Tranum is co-founder of Dublin Inquirer. You can reach him at [email protected]

Reader responses

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at 27 February 2019 at 11:17

Improvement of urban public space - Decluttering of footpaths - More space for pedestrians and cyclists Improving public transport - Light rail / metro serving Harold's Cross, Kimmage, Crumlin, Terenure, Templeogue and beyond. Provision of housing - Rezoning of industrial land for this purpose - Increased density in urban areas - Less focus on hotel / aparthotel development

at 27 February 2019 at 13:17

Provision of social housing as a priority and long-term duty of the corporation and the state. (Social housing for families, the elderly, the community). Proper care and up keep of existing social housing stock. End of mad cap transport schemes - joined up thinking with a realistic sense of who uses transport and why.

janine brenna
at 27 February 2019 at 13:45

Illegal dumping in the North Inner City, more inspections of overcrowded accommodation, and heavier sanctions for empty residential properties.

Reg McCabe
at 27 February 2019 at 14:24

More urban trees around inner city, Dublin 8 and the Liberties. Practically all tree lined roads are in the suburbs. Why hardly any house boats we have about 50km of navigable Waterways! City Council seems determined to preside over endless grid lock! Like other cities we need designated routes through city centre with measures to improve traffic flow. Thanks for opportunity to comment.

at 27 February 2019 at 16:15

Naturally social housing Introducing a Wealth tax, land value tax (not 100%, more like 30-40) Getting solar panels for Government buildings Making public bike repair stations more available in city centre and outskirts particularly. An example of a Bike Repair Station can be seen in UCD Implementing Dublin Metro and not succumbing to NIMBYism Legalising cannabis Introducing a system where one could visit a nurse for a checkup at a reduced rate to a doctor as approx. 2/3 people know what their illness is before consultation and just want a prescription. Decentralisation of power from Dublin. Getting more support to Local Authorities

at 27 February 2019 at 21:37

Governance: Spell out the powers that candidates would give to a directly elected mayor. Environment: How will candidates achieve better and more transparent measures to dispose of on-street wastewater and sewage ? Transport: Do candidates agree with street pricing as a way to reduce the number of vehicles in the inner city and free up more roadspace, especially for walkers ? In order words, would they put tolls on old thoroughfares, not on new ones ? Construction: How will candidates ensure that housing standards are raised and properly enforced ?

Ro Fa
at 28 February 2019 at 09:57

Will you support improvements to public transport and cycling infrastructure even if a small number of constituents will be inconvenienced, given the possibilities for BusConnects and MetroLink to transform the city?

Rory Tinman
at 28 February 2019 at 10:27

Nightlife - I would be keen to see candidates engage with the proposals put forward by the Give Us the Night campaign. Short term lets - After regulations change, what will be done to enforce new rules? Support for Direct Provision residents - In particular, what can be done to help residents who have been granted asylum/leave to remain but are unable to move out of centres? Housing stock - Are any candidates looking at compulsory purchase orders of vacant stock or nationalising privately let property like what's been proposed in Berlin?

Adam O'Keeffe
at 1 March 2019 at 14:36

Climate change. Fair enough, the real heavy lifting needs to be done at the T.D. level, but all levels are important. Ireland is woefully behind and we have to start somewhere.

at 6 March 2019 at 18:01

Would you support Rent Controls for University campuses? As students living on campus must vacate at the end of each term, they would be unable to hoard their accommodation thus eliminating the restriction off supply typically induced by Rent Control

Brian Mc
at 6 March 2019 at 20:01

Climate change and all its myriad of strands (priority to public transport and active travel, congestion charges, reduction of energy use and waste, increasing green areas and plantings). Housing - provision of homeless services and social housing. I'm not sure how much power local authorities still have in this area, but there must be more they can do.

at 31 March 2019 at 17:15

I'm sure there are a lot of overlap in these suggestions but: 1. Transport - prioritising pedestrian, cyclist & public transport. 2. Road Safety - ensuring all users obey the rules 3. Liveability - green spaces, community services, etc. 4. Land zoning - balance of commercial & residential need 5. Homes - investment in new & existing social & affordable homes 6. Governance - decentralisation of decision making from central government

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The work we do isn't possible without our subscribers. We're a reader-funded cooperative. We are not funded or influenced by advertising. For as little as the price of a pint every month, you can support local journalism in your city.