With just two months to go until the election for London's new mayor, we thought it was about time we found out a bit more about our front-running candidates, Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan.
Of course, we can read interviews as well as the next person, but who better to give us some inside information on the duo's track record than people who live in their constituencies? We spoke to a couple of residents in Tooting and Richmond for their views.
Sadiq Khan's strategy of harking back to his roots has clearly paid off — Tooting resident John cited his local connections (Khan's brother owns a boxing club, and his father, as Khan himself has pointed out on several occasions, used to drive one of the area's bus routes) as one of the best things the MP has done for the area:
Sadiq has undoubtedly raised the profile of Tooting. He is often interviewed in a Tooting or Wandsworth location and plays up his local roots constantly.
Though while Khan has established his background and his "man of the people" status from the start, it could be time for him to start focusing on wider issues. John points out that he's a strong and visible presence at local events:
I want him to start appealing to more than his local 'Londoners' as the mayoral constituencies stretch pretty far out and he'll need this vote. It plays well round here, but he needs more than us.
Certainly, Khan's pledge to freeze tube, train and bus fares until 2020 if he's elected to City Hall is of capital-wide appeal, but how realistic is that promise? And what of the potential fall-out if he's unable to keep it? The mayoral office's current incumbent Boris Johnson is all too familiar with the shadow cast by broken promises. John continues:
I work for an advice team in a Wandsworth charity and our clients that have requested help from him have always been complimentary. Him or his parliamentary team respond to requests and have taken action on many constituents' behalf.
In common with his mayoral adversary, Zac Goldsmith scores highly when it comes to listening to the locals. Kew resident Katherine told us:
The best thing he has done for his constituents is actually listen to them. Richmond's an interesting place; full of wealthy people who are also very conscientious, and he represents that very well. For example, the stance he's taken against the third runway at Heathrow, when he could easily have waited to be told what the party line was, and his enthusiasm for small independent shops. The percentage majority that he picked up between his first and second elections is impressive, and that's because he is hugely trusted by the people who live there.
Ah yes, Heathrow's contentious third runway. It's one of Goldsmith's key campaign points, and he promised to stand down as an MP if it went ahead. As one of the hot political issues in the area, it's hard to deny that Goldsmith has won hearts and minds by taking a stance against the Conservative government on this.
Goldsmith has also put in the face time — we heard that he's organised and turned up to meetings in his constituency, even when they weren't for direct promotional reasons. Katherine cited his appearance to open a shoe shop which was rebuilt after being burnt down as one example of his support of small local independent businesses.
Now that both candidates are setting out their stalls for the elections, we asked what our residents thought of their campaigns. Goldsmith's democratic approach to polling his constituents (at his own expense) whether he should stand for mayor went down well. Can you imagine Boris Johnson or even Ken Livingstone doing the same thing? No, we can't either.
His inclusive attitude was also praised. Katherine sent us this link to an interview in the Pink News, in which said he wanted to be the 'pansexual Mayor for London'.
Meanwhile, Tooting residents cited Khan's campaigns on housing and transportation, describing them as 'very strong'. That perennial plan to pedestrianise Oxford Street was mentioned too. John said he'd like Khan to show a bit more of his personality in interviews, and avoid coming across as 'very managed and controlled'.
I don't want him to go full 'Boris' but a flash of personality goes a long way.
We deduce that Boris Johnson's publicity-seeking antics while in office won't be welcome in the new mayor.
So, the million dollar question — what are their chances of being elected as Mayor of London and how good a job would they do?
Tooting resident Lynne reckons Khan stands a very good chance and says she would be 'delighted' if he were elected:
He understands (from experience) the problems facing many Londoners today and has good vision to improve our city.
He's also described as having a strong connection to the city and being a dedicated politician.
Katherine believes Goldsmith's chances might actually be eroded by his party-opposing stance, but believes he's in with a decent shot:
He's very left-wing on some issues, and London is a pretty left-wing place; there are plenty of people I know who view it as choosing Labour over Tory, rather than the people themselves (and Sadiq Khan is more left-wing in general). Having said that, he might be the candidate of choice for Boris Johnson fans for that very reason, despite his liberal tendencies, so he's got a foot in each side.
Do you live in Zac Goldsmith or Sadiq Khan's constituencies? Let us know what you think of their performance as your local MP in the comments.