The election is over, but in a world where a last-minute scandal or biased publicity can sway an outcome, every effort was made to ensure the fight was fair. Horowhenua Chronicle reporter Paul Williams met with the man with the rule book of what could be, couldn't be, and shouldn't be done in an election campaign.
Warwick Lampp, the chief electoral officer who oversaw the local body elections this year, knows that things can get dirty at campaign time. He only has to look at his own email inbox. He's been the victim of abuse himself.
You would have thought Lampp was immune to the kind of vitriolic feedback that gets flung by a fringe element with axes to grind.
"No. I'm not immune. I have received and do receive personal attacks. They are just wanting me to engage, basically," he said.
"Local government has the ability to bring out the best and worst in people."
But then Lamp had seen it all. After overseeing more than 4000 elections in the last 20 years, he knows his stuff. Most of the time an issue just required a healthy dose of common sense.
Lampp had more than 200 elections on the books last year, from iwi boards and teachers and nurses unions to the election of the Board of Directors for a company like Fonterra. The same rules apply to 33 councils, four regional councils and 10 district health boards.
While most ran their course, there was always something new though. For example, Lampp was in Levin when a furore was erupting over whether or not former Mayor Michael Feyen could park his sign-written vehicle in the council carpark.
That was a first. As usual Lampp remained completely impartial. The crux of the complaint was that the council carpark was set aside for visitors, and the Mayor had his own reserved carpark underneath.
"But of course there is nothing to stop anyone parking their car on the street," he said.
The biggest change Lampp had seen in the last 20 years was the explosion of social media, which had brought a new element to the role.
Platforms like Facebook had become a breeding ground for the worst type of campaigning and often awash with personal attacks and untruths from profiles often set up on bogus accounts.
He said he had no jurisdiction over social media and was powerless to act. It was not governed by same rules as restrictions and media law as mainstream media.
There was no accountability for defamation or slander for comments laid from these "trolling" social media accounts. The only recourse was for them to be removed or blocked, but often by that time the damage was done.
It was "American-style" politics when campaigning was high on short bites of sensationalism and low on substance and policy.
He said that while that type of campaigning was not widespread in New Zealand, there were pockets where there was an active social media presence. The Horowhenua electorate was extremely active in this regard.
"It's more labour intensive than dealing with complaints about signs," he said.
"We have to evolve our election protocols and policies to accommodate social media," he said.