Nelson city's mayoral hopefuls have a tense wait for election results tomorrow, in what is predicted to be a tight finish.
Incumbent Aldo Miccio and challengers Rachel Reese, Brian McGurk and Richard Osmaston have a variety of activities planned to fill in the hours before and after the results are known.
They range from fencing at his Lake Rotoiti farm for outsider Mr Osmaston, to Ms Reese having a birthday lunch with her mother and Mr McGurk's afternoon gathering at a central Nelson bar.
Mr Miccio, who has been campaigning at city supermarkets in recent days, could not be contacted. But he is also understood to be planning a gathering with supporters at a bar.
Voting closes at noon tomorrow, and the first results are expected to be announced in the early afternoon.
Whoever wins the mayoralty will also be working with at least three new councillors, with three incumbents not standing for re-election to the 12-member Nelson City Council.
The mayoral candidates who spoke to the Nelson Mail said they were expecting a typical late surge in voting to bring the turnout close to the 50 per cent mark recorded at the past two elections.
They were also expecting a close finish, though Mr Osmaston acknowledged that he did not expect to win.
Ms Reese said she did not know which way the vote would go, with three strong candidates and the potential for vote-splitting.
She said she had received "incredibly positive" feedback in a campaign she characterised as largely good-natured.
"I have come across very few who are personal and nasty through this campaign. It's actually a real pleasure to meet positive people who are supportive of those who stand."
However, she believed that the continuing trend of low voter turnout was a signal that people felt disconnected from local government. The council had to change the way it did business to connect with communities, she said.
Former senior police commander Mr McGurk, who knocked on 9000 doors during the campaign, said that based on the feedback he had received, he could not pick the outcome.
From those who had spontaneously declared their voting intentions, no clear favourite had emerged, he said.
Mr McGurk said a huge number of people had said they intended to vote but had not done so yet. Others had told him they would not bother.
He believed that disillusionment with local government, a lack of hot-button issues, poor media coverage and an overlong voting period had contributed to the low turnout.
Mr Osmaston, who has stood on a platform promoting a moneyless, resource-based economy, said his campaign had been an "outstanding step" in giving his project a local, national and even international profile.
True to his alternative form, he said it did not really matter who won the mayoral race, because the system was broken.
"No matter how ace your mechanic, if your toolbox is empty, he can't fix your car."
He said that judging from his voter feedback, it would be a tight race, but he believed Mr Miccio would edge Ms Reese.
- © Fairfax NZ News