Nominations closed last week in the contest to replace Simon Bridges as the next Member of Parliament for Tauranga.
While 12 candidates are in the running, Bay of Plenty journalist Kiri Gillespie tells the Front Page podcast this is really a two-and-a-half-horse race.
She says National candidate Sam Uffindell and Labour's Jan Tinetti are the clear frontrunners in this race.
The dark horse in this race would be Act candidate Cameron Luxton, who sees an opportunity after a tumultuous few years for the National Party.
"Luxton could probably do pretty well," says Gillespie.
"There will be the old National faithful who have maybe lost interest with everything that's happened with that party in recent years."
This is, however, still a very long shot, given that Winston Peters remains the only non-National MP to have held the Tauranga seat since 1935.
Whoever takes on the position in Tauranga will face a tough challenge in New Zealand's fifth-largest city, which is starting to face some significant societal issues.
Recent media reports have drawn attention to growing concerns about racism and violence in the Tauranga community.
This even affected the byelection candidacy, with Te Pāti Māori announcing they would not run a candidate because of the threat of white supremacists.
Gillespie says the details of these concerns have never been made public, but many within the community did not find it surprising.
"There's definitely a small faction within the Tauranga community that make no bones about their views regarding race, culture, indigenous rights and the treaty," says Gillespie.
"The response after Te Pāti Māori announced they weren't running was really mixed. There was actually a lot of support, with some people saying, 'Yeah, we can appreciate that.' There wasn't a lot of backlash really. There was resignation that this is a fact."
Another factor attracting headlines in Tauranga for the wrong reasons is the growing concern about violence in the community.
The attacks on bus drivers, in particular, have become such a large problem that free student bus fares have been cut back to tackle the issue.
Gillespie says bus drivers are seen as easy targets.
"What are they going to do? They have to do their job and they have to be polite about it. Even the security guards that are down there have been briefed that they can't get involved. Their job is to observe, record and report only."
Much of the violence is being conducted by young, disaffected young people, who often come from troubled backgrounds. And Gillespie says there are no easy fixes to this problem.
Asked whether any of the candidates in the byelection had delivered any ideas on how to address this problem, Gillespie said there wasn't much on offer.
"Act Party candidate Cameron Luxton was in town last week with Act leader David Seymour, and they met with media down at the bus stop – and [Luxton's] suggestion was to ban these kids from buses," says Gillespie.
"While it's nice to see a local politician getting stuck into the local issues, the bus drivers are already boycotting these kids anyway. It was great to see someone using the byelection to say we need to do something on this, but [the suggestion] could have been better."
Gillespie says that these issues run far deeper than the kids' actions and that it would require multi-agency collaboration to really get to the core of why youngsters gravitate to the streets rather than staying home with their families.
Amid this byelection, a Crown Commission has also taken control of all governance responsibilities for the local council in the city.
Gillespie says this unusual step came off the back of internal squabbling among the councillors.
"They wouldn't put their personalities aside and they wouldn't agree with each other. As a result, we didn't make much progress in terms of the things that should have been done in a timely fashion. And there was a very real concern we wouldn't get our long-term plan out."
Gillespie says that this level of dysfunction was really hurting the city at a time when rapid growth is presenting enormous opportunities.
"I think it's been remedied a little bit by bringing in the commissioners, but I think there are still individuals with local politics banging the drum and saying that this is unfair because they're not democratically elected."
The challenge now for the next Tauranga MP is stepping into this challenging environment and carving out a brighter future for one of New Zealand's fastest-growing cities.
• The Front Page is a daily news podcast from the New Zealand Herald, available to listen to every weekday from 5am.