The man taking on Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson for his Wairoa seat in the upcoming elections has questioned whether Mr Wilson "actually has any community knowledge".
Mahia resident Dean Whaanga said he was challenging Mr Wilson for the seat not with an agenda but to resonate with the community.
"I appreciate Fenton has insider knowledge with the HBRC about issues such as the water but I wonder if he actually has any community knowledge."
Mr Whaanga said he would not be going for the seat if he did not feel there were issues and improvements to be made.
"The community are voicing a lot of concerns to me and all I am doing is making them heard."
In response, Mr Wilson accused his opponent of scaremongering.
"I will be as blunt as that but the community deserves a better representation. He is incredibly out of touch and if he is serious about being a contender he needs to do his research," Mr Wilson said.
Mr Whaanga said Wairoa was under represented around the table and the relationship between the HBRC and the community was distant.
"I do not know whether it is Fenton in his position or his predecessor but they are not paying attention to Wairoa and it does not appear we are getting a fair hearing."
Mr Wilson responded saying that the statement that Wairoa was not heard was "rubbish".
"I have not once seen him down here in the community showing interest in what we do. He is simply out of touch."
Mr Whaanga felt improvements would be made if the community advocated for someone who was "strong and passionate" about the district.
"We need someone who can collaborate with us so the community can rally together if they feel strongly about an issue. It was clear after the amalgamation we can do that if given the opportunity so I want to be able to give the people that."
Mr Whaanga said the issues he had raised in his campaign were very close to what he believed in, not to misguide the community.
"The state of the water is very close to my heart. I have spoken to the community and we want to see a plan."
"At the moment there is nothing in place, we are not progressing forwards but instead going backwards."
Mr Wilson said the HBRC had worked on the state of water and they had issues with phosphate and sediment but that was the case the whole way along the east coast.
"Go on to the website Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa (LAWA) and you will see for yourself that what he is saying is wrong."
He said except for the Waihi Dam, where they were prosecuting the companies involved, the state of water was continually being worked on.
Mr Whaanga went for a seat on the Wairoa District Council in 2012 but chose to be a candidate for the HBRC this election, as the issues he wanted to address were regional matters.
"The water and environment are near and dear to me and I want the community to be able to get the support necessary so we can get the jobs done."