The genuine political contest should inspire people to vote and encourage voters to carefully consider who they choose to be the first West Midlands mayor according to the experts.
Andrew Carter, chief executive of the think tank Centre for Cities, said: “The West Midlands is shaping up to be the closest race out of all the upcoming mayoral elections, which reflects the quality and experience of the candidates standing in the city region.
“Whoever becomes mayor will have the powers and mandate to make a big difference on issues that matter to people’s day-to-day lives, such as jobs, transport and housing. Hopefully the fact that there is a genuine political contest in the city region will inspire people across the West Midlands to get out and vote on May 4.”
Colin Copus, Professor of local politics from De Monfort University and a leading authority on mayoral systems urged candidates to consider voters, areas and issues they would ignore in a traditional council election.
He said: “It can be in elections using this system that a candidate becomes a strong winner in the second round. But it also doesn’t mean that the candidate ahead at the first count will automatically win.
“Voters preferences for policy issues, when asked, won’t necessarily fit with the powers of the office they are being asked to elect. The mayor will have leverage over health and could use the office to influence NHS decisions beyond the actual power they have.
“Even if an office doesn’t have power over an issue – say immigration- voters may still want to signal their thoughts on the issue by voting for a candidate that mirror their view.”
What do the candidates say?
Conservative candidate Andy Street : “When we started our campaign at the Conservative Party conference we knew we had a huge gap to close. This suggests we have done and the momentum is with us as we head into the final lap.
“It also suggests the importance of key issues like making a success of Brexit are registering with the public and they increasingly recognise the importance of strong leadership at this time.”
Liam Byrne MP, leading Sion Simon’s campaign said: “Every vote will count on May 4 and we are fighting hard to win.
“The choice is between a Labour Mayor, who’s really from here, and puts the West Midlands’ interests before everything else; or the Tory candidate, described as ‘London’s Ambassador to the West Midlands’, sent here as the Conservative Party’s ‘Yes Man’.”
UKIP’s Pete Durnell said: “Although lagging a little behind Conservative and Labour, this survey reflects solid support for UKIP across the region, and for the central theme of my campaign, which is to be absolutely open and honest with voters at all times. Over the final two weeks I will continue to point out the high cost to taxpayers of the new layer of government, whilst highlighting my simple, achievable and realistic priorities, and avoiding making any obviously unrealistic claims about what a mayor can actually do.
“I believe with the level of turnout uncertain, it’s still very much ‘all to play for’ in this election. If you want a true, clean and total exit from the EU, not a ‘soft/fake’ one, then there can surely be no better way of sending this message to Westminster and Theresa May than by returning a UKIP West Midlands Metro Mayor on May 4.”
Lib Dem candidate Beverley Nielsen said: “As we all know, polls can be very unreliable and their results notoriously misleading. We are sure that the General Election announcement has boosted our chances in the mayoral race. The best poll in our mind is the 5,000 people who have joined the Lib Dem Party in the last 24 hours.