It's become one of the match-ups of the election - the outgoing North Shore Mayor versus the blogger who loves to make fun of him. Wayne Thompson reports on their battle in Albany ward.

ANDREW WILLIAMS

* Mayor of North Shore City since 2007
* Aged 51
* Political experience: North Shore City Council member three years, Takapuna Community Board member three years, Mayor three years.
* Candidate for Auckland mayoralty, Albany ward of Auckland Council, Waitemata District Health Board.
* On Cameron Slater: "He craves attention and he craves the limelight."

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has been awake for 16 hours. He has already been to Wellington to cook fritters on a television show - and now he is taking the stage in the church hall just down the road from his home.

He knows he is the star act.

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He is the only "top three" polling Super City mayoral candidate there and his "Thanks Andrew" website page displays a glowing testimonial from the meeting organisers, the Campbells Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association.

But the one-term mayor knows that in the audience is his bitter political rival Cameron Slater, a blogger who has ridiculed him for years.

On stage, Mr Williams presents as subdued, dignified, satisfied - unlike the bombastic, bumbling boozer portrayed by Mr Slater's Whale Oil website.

The party piece over, Mr Williams moves to the back of the hall, where he hears Deputy Mayor Julia Parfitt have her five minutes on stage.

He is still there when Mr Slater finishes his turn.

Jane Williams stands protectively between her husband and the blogger, flinching at his barb that, unlike the mayor, he expects tough questions and robust debate.

It was one of "several dozen" meetings which Mr Williams has attended in the last month as a candidate for mayor, Albany Ward councillor for the Auckland Council and the Waitemata District Health Board.

He says he has a strategy for coping with Mr Slater's presence on the same stage: "He craves attention and he craves the limelight and the best way is to ignore him, if you can."

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Mr Williams claims a victory - reckoning he has uncovered a member of the blogger's spy ring.

"It was disappointing to find Gary Holmes in cahoots with Cameron Slater, with him attending public meetings, sending twitters and messages off to Cameron Slater, who was putting them straight on his blogsite and Cameron Slater was saying, 'My spy's at the meeting tonight'."

Mr Holmes, who lost his seat on the city council to Mr Williams in 2007, is a candidate for the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board.

He denies Mr Williams' allegation of "covert" political activities while being general manager of the rates-funded North Harbour Business Association.

CAMERON SLATER

* Writes the Whale Oil blog.
* Aged 42.
* Political experience: Delivering pamphlets since primary school.
* Candidate for: Albany ward of Auckland Council.
* On Andrew Williams: "I can have a friendly conversation with anybody except for Andrew Williams."

Cameron Slater climbs through a small window to get inside All Hallows Hall at Campbells Bay.

He offers to, after failing to pick the lock. The code is wrong and 22 candidates and 53 residents are out in the cold waiting to get in.

As he steps on the window sill 1.5m above the concrete and squeezes through the gap, it seems likely the wooden sash he is straddling will splinter under his 100kg weight.

"Of course it won't ... it's a solidly built place," he reassures grateful meet-the-candidates event organisers, slowly bringing his feet together on the piano against the other side of the wall, and descending to the floor.

He is already the candidate who has stood out for the audience before he takes his four minutes' window of opportunity on stage to say why they should elect him for the Auckland Council's Albany ward seat.

Better known as the blogger Whale Oil, the 42-year-old wears a black T-shirt advertising his brand, with a killer whale logo and slogan "Keeping the buggers honest".

Confidently, he says councillors should be like MPs and be accessible to voters at all times.

He is not averse to meeting face to face but there is also the advance of social media. For example, he had 30,000 individual views of his blog the day before, and he says he will respond to emails.

"Elect me to represent you and I'll do it as loudly as possible," he booms.

He is heckled after self-righteously referring to incidents in his 18 months of verbal attacks on North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams, whom he now wants to beat in a public contest.

In front of an audience, Mr Slater shows a personable side and also a politician's skills.

He talks about politicians picking ratepayers' pockets for pet projects.

He picks up on concerns of a previous speaker that the Super City will turn East Coast Bays' streets into looking "like South Auckland - roller doors and rubbish".

Smiling, he asks for questions.

Two come forward: What is his relationship as a man from Howick to the needs of North Shore? What experience does he have?

Mr Slater says he rents a home in Bucklands Beach, in Manukau City, and could move to Albany ward.

"Experience? I've been poking pins in politicians' eyes since I was 10 years old."