Napier Labour Party candidate and anti-amalgamation campaigner Stuart Nash believes a defacing campaign of his "No To Amalgamation" signs was not random vandalism and there were "political motives" behind the attacks.
The words "No To" had been obliterated by black spray paint.
"This kind of vandalism does no good to those on the other side of the debate, and I hope this action was not sanctioned by those running the pro-amalgamation lobby - but it's hard to imagine they didn't know," Mr Nash said.
"This doesn't appear to be the random actions of some yob on the way back from town, but rather a deliberate attempt to manipulate the message."
Three of the signs, at the intersection of Hyderabad Road, Carlyle and Thackeray Streets and Georges Drive, were damaged during the weekend but Mr Nash's stance was not shaken and he had replaced them.
He said he took the incidents "very seriously" and the work would have a negative effect as to what the perpetrators may have hoped for.
"The bottom line is it is illegal, it is dirty politics and in my experience it turns people off," Mr Nash said.
"Perhaps they should put their efforts into more positive endeavours as opposed to attempting to subvert those of us who are working hard to ensure amalgamation does not occur."
Mr Nash has been a vocal and high-profile opponent of pro-amalgamation lobby group ABHB (A Better Hawke's Bay), and the Local Government Commission draft proposal to merge Hawke's Bay's five councils.
"There is a cost to this - not just the signs themselves, but I also received resource consent to display them and all the people out there who have provided me with locations for these shouldn't have to put up with vandalised signs on their property."
He said the attacks had made him more determined than ever to keep getting the anti-amalgamation message out.
Chairwoman of ABHB, Rebecca Turner, said she was surprised someone would chose to vandalise the signs now when they have been up for months.
"Although we don't agree with some of Stuart's stances, he's allowed to say whatever he wants," she said.
Alister Mackie, co-founder of a new Napier-based pro-amalgamation lobby, Napya, also said his group was not involved in the vandalism.
"We are not politically motivated. We have no political agenda whatsoever," he said. "We don't have time to be doing that sort of thing and the politics is probably the bit that we dislike the most because that seems to be what's getting in the way of the issue.
Mr Mackie, of Ahuriri-based design agency Band, said the new group was self-funded, set up a Facebook page and ran an advertisement in Hawke's Bay Today to gauge pro-amalgamation interest within Napier.
"We just felt we needed to put a stake in the ground at this point," he said.
"What we worked out fairly quickly was that there was this feeling that everybody in Napier was against amalgamation and for us, in general discussions with people, we knew that that wasn't the case.
"There was definitely an anti-amalgamation sentiment in Napier but a lot of that was coming from [the fact that] no one had stood up and said we do believe in it and we're from Napier."
"We've had quite a lot of positive feedback since we ran the ad last week," he said.
"The idea was just to go fishing and see who else would be into it. And we've found that there are indeed other people who like the idea.
He said during the course of eight years of running a business in Hastings followed by eight years running Band in Napier, the inter-city rivalry had "washed over" him and he was excited by the prospect of eliminating that rivalry through amalgamation.
"It seems to me at the moment there's a whole lot more bureaucracy, red tape and politicians than is needed for such a small population base," he said.
"I totally get Napier people's fear and hesitancy to get on board with it because it's been this way for such a long time.
"Napier will still have lots of Napier-ness to it through amalgamation but what it won't have is the burden of over-governance."
National Party Napier candidacy hopeful and Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Wayne Walford, said he couldn't comment on the incidents.
Meanwhile Mr Nash will speak on amalgamation at the Photographers' Gallery on Tennyson St in Napier at 5.30pm on March 7.
Organiser Shayne Jeffares said he was hoping for a "friendly debate, for the community".
"I see it as excluding the mayors as speakers, but an open invitation for anyone to attend, and hopefully people for amalgamation putting their name forward to debate the issues against Stuart."