All 18 of them have given us 300 words in an attempt to explain why they deserve your vote.

It's a challenge to get your point across in these situations, you can judge how well they did tomorrow.

I've had the benefit of reading the profiles already - hopefully it will inform me ahead of Thursday's public candidate meeting for the Whangarei electorate. I am hosting the event with The Hits host Charmaine Soljak.

The Northland Chamber of Commerce is also involved.


Our plan is to let the candidates shine.

We've organised these meetings before for Whangarei mayoral candidates and they're a very useful way of identifying genuine contenders.

Bear in mind that central government elections have the added complexity of the party vote too.
So don't discount someone just because you don't see them as an electorate MP - what does their party mean to you?

The catalyst for the Advocate organising our first central government meeting was NZ First's Shane Jones.

Early on it made the normally boring Whangarei electorate race interesting. The Whangarei race is only boring, by the way, because there's generally only one horse in it.

National's candidate Shane Reti held a 13,000 majority after the 2014 election - not a bad effort for a first-time MP.

However, the Whangarei electorate race - all of the contests in Northland's seats, for that matter - has become about much more than a contest between candidates.

The party vote will dictate who has power after the election, and whether NZ First and party leader Winston Peters is thrust into the kingmaker role.

So when you read the candidates' plea to you tomorrow, or if you see the Whangarei candidates on Thursday night at Forum North at 6pm, hopefully it adds up to an informed choice at the polling booths.

It's the best type of choice and we're proud of our role in helping voters make it.

We'd also like to congratulate people like Te Hiku Media, and all the organisers of the many candidate meetings being held.

It's the sign of a healthy democracy - hopefully it gives us the right MPs for Northland.