Hawke's Bay Today's two mayoral debates in Hastings and Central Hawke's Bay were huge successes with about 700 people attending over the two nights.
The recent Havelock North gastro crisis added heat to the Hastings mayoral debate and all three candidates - incumbent Lawrence Yule, councillor Adrienne Pierce and local lawyer Guy Wellwood - certainly had a lot to say on the issue.
The surprise of the evening was Mr Wellwood, who went on the attack and made it quite clear that he felt it was time for Mr Yule to go. He was eloquent and made some good points, but could have given a few more specific policies. Ms Pierce was clearly nervous, but scored points with the audience by suggesting council pull back its involvement in Horse of the Year.
Mr Yule did well on the night, despite coming under fire for his handling of the gastro crisis. He seemed to get a bit irritated by Mr Wellwood's aggressive stance, but finished strongly with a vision for the future. His discreet fist pump on the way back to his chair indicated he was happy.
I was really looking forward to the CHB debate because whoever wins will be a first-time mayor. The packed venue certainly got to hear where the candidates stood on the issues, especially the dam.
Lawyer-turned-farmhand Gerard Pain is a single issue candidate, with cleaning up the Makaroro River his main focus. He did not seem comfortable with the Q&A format, but gave quite a good speech to wrap up.
Local businesswoman Alex Walker had obviously done her homework and looked like she could be the genuine article. However, she will be pushed hard by councillor Sally Butler who came across as an experienced hand.
It will be a fascinating battle.