I spent a very interesting afternoon this week listening to politicians explain why they should be voted into office in next month's general election.
The occasion was a debate organised by community radio station Radio Kidnappers, which I moderated.
The seven politicians who took part were Wayne Walford, National candidate for Napier; Stuart Nash, Labour candidate for Napier; Garth McVicar, Conservative candidate for Napier; Craig Foss, current MP for Tukituki and National candidate; Anna Lorck, Labour candidate for Tukituki; Chris Perley, Green Party candidate for Tukituki; and Stephen Jenkinson, Conservative Party candidate for Tukituki. The candidates were able to put their points across on a number of issues and there are some key battles shaping up in the different electorates.
The Napier seat, left vacant by Chris Tremain, will be fiercely contested. Mr Nash probably still has the edge but Mr Walford (sans ponytail) seems to be working hard to make inroads. An interesting twist is the late entry of Mr McVicar, the founder of the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Mr McVicar genuinely believes he can win, but there is a possibility that all he will end up doing is taking votes off Mr Walford.
The fight for the Tukituki seat is certainly getting heated, if Wednesday's debate is anything to go by. Labour's Ms Lorck did not pull any punches in saying exactly what she thought of Mr Foss' performance as MP. She has a huge mountain to climb because Mr Foss won the seat last time with a majority of more than 9000. She has stepped up her intensity and so has Mr Foss.
So strap yourselves in, this election campaign is going to be a good one and Hawke's Bay Today plans to keep you informed every step of the way.