If you're thinking of joining the race to be mayor of Hamilton or standing for one of the 12 councillor jobs, the city's chief executive Richard Briggs has a message for you — be well informed on the local issues and base your views on fact.
With nominations open until August 16 all councils have to prepare a pre-election report outlining the state of the finances, major projects ahead and challenges the next elected representatives may expect.
Hamilton's report is out now; called Shape Your City, it was prepared independently of the current elected members.
Mr Briggs says the new council must be ready to tackle some serious issues and make some big decisions.
"If a candidate is promising to cut rates, people should know what they are intending to cut to pay for that, or what new sources of funding they have found, Mr Briggs says."
He says candidates and voters should read the report carefully. It poses some tough questions and he makes no apology for trying to shake things up.
"The report's pretty blunt but it needs to be. Hamilton's a great, growing city; candidates need to understand the complexities of the job and the issues they will be grappling with," Mr Briggs says.
"Council will be delivering $2 billion worth of new work over the next decade so candidates owe it to the city to have a clear position on key issues."
The report outlines five key challenges for the city and includes detail on rates, debt, balancing the books and the council's investments.
The report poses questions about Hamilton's identity, the role of technology and the need to do things differently in local government.
There are direct questions for candidates and voters to consider, on issues ranging from climate change to affordable housing.
"We need to be challenging the status quo and thinking differently about the role of the council in the city's future," Mr Briggs says.
"For example, continuing to increase rates above inflation is financially unsustainable for ratepayers. We need to look at how we work with a bigger range of partners, including government and the private sector. The days of every council 'going it alone' are over.
"To reduce rates or our borrowing levels, we'll have to cut projects or services already outlined in our 10-Year Plan."
Mr Briggs says one of the city's biggest challenges was involving Hamiltonians in the business of the council.
"It's clear we need to build better relationships with the people who live here and we are now taking a completely different approach in that space," he says.
"Our engagement levels are reflected in how many people vote. In the last election, only a third of those eligible to vote did and Hamilton voter turnout was lower than in Tauranga, Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North and even Nelson," he says.
Mr Briggs says he made no apology for putting the challenges to all candidates and asking them to share their views and ideas.
"That's what democracy is about. We can't engage people in the running of the city if we don't talk about the key challenges faced by the council and, ultimately, our ratepayers.
"The decisions our mayor and councillors make will matter — and matter for a long time. If we get it wrong now, our city will suffer the consequences for a long time."
More election information and the report is available at yourcityelections.co.nz. Hard copies of the report are available at the Council's Municipal Building in Garden Place and at Hamilton City Libraries branches.