Those waiting for the over-hyped "negative" election campaign promised by fifth-columnist Simon Lusk seem destined to be disappointed, since currently it looks like a beat-up in search of a job.
Or maybe it's a double-reverse blind, as the only negativity I've seen to date is from Kevin Rose and Ewan McGregor, complaining about (non-existent) negativity. That they seem to attach this label to any criticism of their performance rather implies it's deserved.
Sure, the Growers Action Group could be considered "negative" - certainly by incumbents - but they do, after all, have a very valid point. While a vote for positive change is just that.
Similar on the fluoride front, where the DHB's campaign seems entirely negative up to and including its CEO Dr Snee's infantile sign vandalism: a lot of simplistic scaremongering that isn't backed by the facts. If the Napier-as-control, Hastings-fluoridated 60-year experiment proves anything it's that fluoride in water makes no difference to rates of tooth decay.
Finding a DHB candidate willing to state their support for ending this mass medication is much more difficult. That those living in Napier aren't directly affected might have something to do with it.
To date the only one saying "No" to fluoride is Lynlee Aitcheson. Good for her. Graeme Norton, Jacoby Poulain and Heather Skipworth are in the "maybe" camp, while all other candidates support fluoridation.
Regardless, my instinct is to back a new crop who mightn't be as remote and paternal in their approach, so perhaps adding Bev Fullerton-Smith, Pip Rutherford and Lucy Lesperance to those above could form an interesting new board.
Hastings District Council also disappoints because so few challengers have stood up to be counted. Don't assume that's a confidence vote; I suspect some good prospects were put off by the single-term odds given impending amalgamation, and have reserved their powder. If so, they've got it wrong, because if you're not in this time you won't get a look-in to a unified council.
Big-spending mayoral incumbent Lawrence Yule has probably dodged a bullet with the politically-naive Simon Nixon splitting the change vote. The prudent Wayne Bradshaw might be a bit of a "grey man" but he stood a good chance of an upset one-on-one; Nixon's inability to recognise he doesn't will likely put Yule in again.
In the now-combined Hastings-Havelock North ward, apart from Bradshaw sitting councillor Sandra Hazlehurst is the only other incumbent I'd support, adding newcomers Sarah Millington and Adrienne Pierce, and perhaps Malcolm Dixon, to the mix. The best way to support these candidates is to vote strategically - for them, and no one else.
Rod Heaps should retain a Heretaunga seat, with Ann Redstone my pick to join him.
Rural Kahuranaki is a straight duel between the okay-in-patches Mick Lester and the worth-a-punt David Mackintosh. Mick's probably done his effective dash, so let's see what David can add.
As for CHB, Wairoa, and Tararua, without adequate local knowledge the choices seem limited; all I'd advise is to back those who think environment at least equals economy in import, and believe in water storage but not the proposed "one dam for a few" scheme. Oh, and think the real risk to our aquifers from fracking outweighs any other consideration.
Yes, I'm unashamedly for change. Too many "big picture" items - water, oil, GE, land management - are either being fudged or driven by too-narrow a response from our incumbents, and that has to shift.
Bottom line: Don't get sucked into the mind-games those in power employ to hang on to their sinecures. Vote for people you believe will not only listen but proactively work with you for the best practical future.
That's the right of it.
Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.