I am really enjoying this election season and locally it is living up to expectations.

The contest ramped up last week when Hawke's Bay Today held its first candidates debate - the Tukituki electorate.

Thanks to the six candidates who took part. I must say that out of all the debates I have moderated in the five years I have been editor, this was the most positive and policy focused.

That was despite the determined effort by a small group of National Party-supporting women who seemed to be running a quiet campaign to unsettle the Labour candidate Anna Lorck. I am not sure why they bothered because it did not seem to work and, more importantly, Lawrence Yule, their candidate, did not need their help. If anything it detracted from his campaign.

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Mr Yule, a seasoned political campaigner, handled the tough questions I threw at him with aplomb. He probably knew he was going to be asked whether he was trustworthy for backing down on restanding for Hasting mayor and completing his term.

He was sure-footed in saying that circumstances change and that the water crisis had been the biggest issue in his career. He invited voters to judge him. It gave voters the power, but also gave him credibility. But his success or failure hinges on whether Havelock Northians have forgiven him for the water crisis.

Also, the Anna Lorck he was up against was not the seemingly aggressive and negative greenhorn political wannabe who attacked Craig Foss four years ago.

This was an Anna Lorck who has matured politically, but her big hurdle will be to appeal to the village voters who rejected her in the thousands last election. She has made some strides, but it is a big ask.

It should be a close race, so vote carefully.