It's that time again.
Local body election signs are popping up like triennial fungi urging voters to "choose me".
Believe it or not, not all local body aspirants love having their name and face splashed about publicly. Some even shun publicity, which is ironic given the public role of a local government politician.
But that's democracy - to get voted in, you need attention as well as reputation, and experience or substance.
There are plenty of people in local government who are there because they genuinely care about working for their communities, and helping make decisions on behalf of ratepayers for their communities.
There are also some shockers - people whom I wouldn't trust with $5 to buy me a cup of coffee, and bring back the right change.
How do you tell if someone will make a good local body politician?
A good sign is integrity, substance and clear communication around what they stand for.
Ignore anyone who says, "I will do this". They can't.
Local body politicians are a single voice in a council - candidates cannot guarantee change because the democratic process that selects councillors continues around the table in council chambers. It's called politics.
Courage, and fairness are great attributes. The ability to listen, as well as speak? Priceless.
I was once told it helps to know your way around a balance sheet. It does, although the mayor who told me also had a thug-like Mafioso air that hung about wherever he went.
Newer generations of voters (bring on online voting!) expect councils to have an eye on social, as well as economic, development. And avoid voting for people who "look nice" - make an effort to learn something about the candidate.
Listen to them. Read about them.
Hawke's Bay Today will provide an unbiased platform for candidates to share their message.
And let us know what you want to hear from candidates, we are happy to challenge them for you.
If you are eligible to vote, get out there and do it this election. But do it with the intelligence you expect your preferred candidate to exhibit.