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City businessman Tom Conroy (53) and current councillor Karen Arnold (46) are challenging veteran Tim Shadbolt (69), already the longest-serving mayor in the country, who is chasing his eighth term as mayor.
Mr Conroy and Mr Shadbolt are standing for only the mayoralty.
Newcomers dominate the list of council candidates and include a singer, several businessmen, a retired policeman, a supermarket worker, a real estate agent, a marriage celebrant and a magician.
Two longtime campaigners in general elections, Lesley Soper (Labour) and Dave Kennedy (Greens), are also chasing seats, as are all the current councillors bar Alan Dennis, who is retiring after 12 years.
It appeared a by-election might be required for the Bluff Community Board because of a lack of nominations, but in the end five people have been nominated for the five spots and no election will be required.
Southland Mayor Gary Tong (57), who was first elected in 2013, has one challenger, Winton caregiver Steve Fagerlund (58).
Mr Fagerlund said he did not expect to beat Mr Tong.
"I thought, if no-one stands against Mayor Tong he will have a mandate to do whatever he likes. If I can take 3000-4000 votes off him he will have to sit up and take notice."
Mr Fagerlund said he was particularly opposed to the establishment of the Around the Mountains cycle trail in Northern Southland.
Nominations have flowed in slowly but steadily for council and community board places.
Seven sitting councillors will be back again because no elections are required in their wards, while two long-serving councillors, Rodney Dobson and Lyall Bailey, are retiring.
Elections will be required in just three of the district’s eight community boards.
Former Invercargill MP Eric Roy and former Federated Farmers Southland president Russell MacPherson are among 11 people chasing six vacancies in Environment Southland’s Invercargill-Rakiura ward.
The Environment Southland representation will be largely unchanged in the rural constituencies, with elections not required in the Fiordland, Hokonui, Southern and Western constituencies.