MALLEE voters will have the luxury of choice when we go to the polls on May 18 for the Federal Election.
As of noon Wednesday, 11 candidates had declared their intentions to contest the seat.
And if political commentator Dr Nick Economou is right - and he so often is - it's not only vital that people make an informed and considered choice; but they take into account where they rank other candidates on the vote card.
Dr Economou believes preferences will ultimately decide our next Member for Mallee - and that's an opportunity closely watched by many voters and followers of one of our country's safest seats.
The Wimmera Mail-Times is committed to bringing our readers informed and balanced coverage leading into the Federal Election.
That coverage and the topics and questions we ask of the candidates can be driven by your interest - and I encourage readers to get in touch with me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org
I also encourage readers to attend one of two Wimmera-based candidate forums remaining before the election. Yarriambiack Shire Council hosts a forum on April 29, followed by Horsham Rural City Council's forum on May 7.
Eight of the candidates were in the spotlight on Monday night when Hindmarsh Shire Council hosted its forum in Nhill - and it was a fascinating insight into the people who could go on to become our representative in Canberra.
Through on-the-spot questions, and timed response periods, the candidates showed their level of understanding and research on policy and the biggest issues facing the electorate.
Science Party candidate Leigh Firman, Labor candidate Carole Hart, Independent Ray Kingston, Citizens Electoral Council's Chris Lahy, United Australia Party's Rick Millar, Independents Cecilia Moar and Jason Modica and National Party candidate Anne Webster told people at the forum why they should be at the top of the vote card.
They also answered a series of hard-hitting questions from the community - from their main policies and the legacies they hoped to leave behind, to specific questioning on funding models, water and infrastructure and employment.
Asking your own questions and listening to the answers could help the community make an appropriate choice for them.
The door is open for anyone to take the mantle. What matters to you?
Jessica Grimble, editor