One thing that many people not involved in politics have never grasped is that seriously running for election, even for the county council, is the commitment equivalent of taking on a full-time job that YOU pay to do. As a result, it’s not surprising that parties are struggling to get high-quality candidates to run. For many people, the huge effort simply isn’t worth the result: ending up on a council with most other cllrs happy to just thread water and rubber stamp the actual decisions of the Chief Executive.
One possible solution would be that we elect a proportion of the county council by a county-wide party list system. We can do this by legislation (PRSTV is only constitutionally required for national offices) and it would allow parties to recruit people who are not professional candidates but would bring new skills to the council.
Secondly, it would allow the voters to vote for county-wide platforms and manifestos as opposed to the current hyper-local “pothole outside my door” issues that prevent county-wide issues being addressed. Take the drive in Dublin city to reduce car access: support it or not, it was not debated as an issue in the last local elections.
Dun Laoghaire has 40 elected cllrs. Imagine if 20 were elected as now, and 20 elected in county-wide closed lists. I genuinely believe it would attract a wider selection of people to run as the party vote would elect them as opposed to massive ward grafting.
Funnily enough, I could see Sinn Fein bringing in such a system…