On Thursday Londoners will go to the polls to choose their city's next mayor.

But they also have the chance to vote for members of the General London Assembly (GLA) - those whose job it is to hold the mayor to account in City Hall.

We spoke to candidates vying to represent the Croydon and Sutton constituency.

Steve O’Connell (Conservative)

Ask an average voter what the GLA actually does, and you might get one or two blank looks about how exactly members earn their £55,161 yearly salary.

But Conservative incumbent Steve O'Connell was keen to stress the role's importance.

He said: "I have spent the last eight years explaining the relevance of the mayor and how it impacts on the lives of families and businesses, and by extension the assembly members for this area is there to hold the mayor to account for Croydon and Sutton."

However, Cllr O'Connell admitted there were areas where he had hoped to persuade outgoing mayor Boris Johnson "to do more" for Croydon and Sutton.

Revealing that about "about 80 per cent" of his casework was on transport related issues, Cllr  O'Connell said he was disappointed that extensions to the tram network to Sutton and Crystal Palace were so far yet to materialise.

But he said: "I don't think it's ever enough. I'm pleased we have seen investment in Croydon town centre and the transport network. Across in Sutton I'm pushing very hard for the tram.

"The important thing was for Boris to recognise Croydon and Sutton as these powerhouses of the south."

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Steve O'Connell

Cllr O'Connell was elected to the GLA in 2008 and is also a Croydon councillor - a portfolio that once led the Daily Mail to describe him as the "best-paid councillor in the country".

With polls indicating a victory for Labour's Sadiq Khan in the mayoral election, how would Cllr O'Connell adjust to the alien experience of working with an opposition boss in City Hall if he was re-elected?

He said: "It will be a different dynamic obviously. But I'm not tribal.

"I would rather work with a Conservative mayor, but I'm the sort of guy who is happy to work with whoever. And I hope the mayor would be the same."

But as election day draws nearer, there are those murmuring that Mr O'Connell's own 9,000 majority could be under threat from Labour challenger Marina Ahmed.

How confident is he of winning another four year term?

He said: "We're just doing all we can. I like to think I will increase my majority. But it will be close."

Marina Ahmad (Labour)

By her own admission, Marina Ahmad is "not a betting woman".

But as the campaign draws to close, you sense she is growing in confidence about her chances of becoming the first ever Labour GLA member for Croydon and Sutton.

She said: "It's manic. It's so energised. All you need to do is look on our website and see how many teams of people we have got out there every day, knocking on doors.

"[People] are really sick of what's happening to this country under the Tories. We have a lot more to offer than a Tory-run City Hall."

Ms Ahmad has plenty of previous experience of running in elections - although not of winning them.

She made an unsuccessful bid to become the MP for Beckenham in last May's General Election, and before that failed in her attempts to get elected as a Bromley councillor.

Outlining her credentials for a GLA seat, she was scathing about the record of Conservative incumbent Steve O'Connell, who she accused of being "asleep at the wheel" during Boris Johnson's two terms as mayor.

She said: "It doesn't make any difference who the mayor is, if it's Labour or Conservative. It's irrelevant - my issue is what's best for my constituents.

"As an assembly member, your role is to scrutinise decisions. And I don't think we have had that from a Tory member and a Tory mayor."

A Bromley resident ("from my house, I can see New Addington") who works in Croydon, Ms Ahmad claimed she "probably spends more time in Croydon than Steve O'Connell".

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Marina Ahmad

Asked about the biggest issues facing Croydon and Sutton voters, Ms Ahmad was quick to name two: the Beddington incinerator, and the recently announced closure of a number of Croydon's neighbourhood police bases.

She said: "Croydon has proportionally already suffered the largest number of police station closures in London. We're the largest population in London - we can't afford to have more police station closures."

She is calling for an inquiry into how Viridor was awarded the contract to build the controversial incinerator.

Probed on housing, Ms Ahmad said she did not support the building of new homes on green-belt land.

But she would not be drawn on whether she agreed with Croydon Council's plans to build new homes in Shirley, on land formerly protected as Metropolitan Open Land.

But she said: "We need to be really clear about the facts here - it was land that was de-designated by the Conservative mayor and it was allowed to go ahead by Steve O'Connell.  What was he doing when that was happening?"

Amna Ahmad (Liberal Democrat)

Amna Ahmad is the first to admit that the role of a London Assembly member is not well-understood.

The Liberal Democrat candidate said: “I want to take the time and explain to people in the area about what a GLA member does. They need to know that we can help them to have a say in a number of things - whether it is transport, policing, or housing, we can help them have a voice.”

She believes better communication is the key to winning over voters - whether they like what they are hearing or not.

On her support for the controversial Beddington incinerator, she said: “I would talk to residents about their concerns over the incinerator, but I think a lot of myths have it have come to the forefront regarding the effect it could have on air quality.

"In the long run it is the best option for local residents."

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Amna Ahmad

Fresh from her attempt to unseat Chuka Umunna in his Streatham constituency at last year's general election, Ms Ahmad now hopes to give voice to Liberal Democrat flagship policies - including half-price early morning transport fares - in Croydon and Sutton.

She said: “The Liberal Democrats best represent liberal London values and are invested in the community making decisions that benefit them."

Currently living in Streatham, the Oxford-educated Ms Ahmad said she had hoped to move further south into the constituencies she hopes to represent - but had been prevented by rising house prices.

She said: “I grew up in south London having moved from Lahore when I was under one years old. I know [Croydon and Sutton] well and have family who do live here.

"I was looking to move myself, but the property market has meant I have not been able to move down as quickly as I would like. I think that is a situation that many people find themselves in."

Tracey Hague (Green)

Tracey Hague is faithful spokeswoman for the Green Party message – she is “fundamentally against” the Beddington incinerator, housing “is probably the biggest issue facing London right now”, and she believes the introduction of single flat fare on public transport would “encourage people out of their cars” and help solve London’s “terrible” air pollution.

And does not pull her punches when it comes to assessing the record of Conservative Steve O’Connell, whose GLA seat she hopes to occupy after next Thursday’s vote.

She said: “I can’t put my finger on a thing that he has actually achieved for Croydon or Sutton, so I think we need a change. It is perfectly obvious that he is nodding whenever he is told to and is wagging whenever he is told to wag.”

With the Greens currently holding two of the 25 seats on the GLA, Ms Hague believes the party often “holds the balance of power” in City Hall decision-making – a position she wants to see “maintained and expanded”.

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Tracey Hague

Ms Hague, who lives in Addiscombe and has worked for 15 years in the energy and buildings sector, bemoaned the “chronic shortage” of housing in Croydon: “All we are seeing is big blocks of flats going up. We are looking at having a London renters union. Labour are pushing for rent controls but no one is looking at a union.”

Promising an ambitious £1.5bn of improvements for walking and cycling in London, she said the Beddington incinerator would only contribute to London’s growing air-pollution problem: “It is the second biggest cause of death, why are we putting up with it?

“I am fundamentally against [the incinerator] for many reasons, not just air pollution - it is old technology, it is unnecessary. It was the only alternative looked at for landfill – they did not consider any other technology."

Peter Staveley (Ukip)

Unlike other members of his party, Ukip candidate Peter Staveley chose not to kick off his election pitch by railing against mass migration.

Asked about the biggest issues facing Croydon and Sutton, he said: "We have still got the ongoing issue around the incinerator. The reason I am against it is partly the air issues, but the more fundamental issue is that we as Ukip have a policy that any large development - and that includes Westfield - we would want to have a local referendum."

This appeal to local democracy is slightly tempered by the acknowledgement that "as an assembly member my role [would be] a bit limited, so all I would be able to do is look at what the mayor could do.

"He could still stop the incinerator."

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Peter Staveley

Mr Staveley, who lives in Addiscombe and is the treasurer of party's Croydon branch, also signalled his support for a Transport for London takeover of suburban train services and opposition to building new houses on green belt land.

But it was always going to come up: speaking on his way to a campaign event in New Addington (an area he described as "relatively Eurosceptic"), Mr Staveley said: "Why are all these houses required? Because the population is going up.

"It is the elephant in the room that we have to deal with migration as part of overall planning. Until we address those issues, the number of houses being built is almost irrelevant."

Madonna Lewis (All People's Party)

Madonna Lewis believes the people of Croydon and Sutton "for too long have had their voices ignored by the mainstream parties".

She said: “If given the chance, I will make sure that all of their voices are heard in City Hall.”

Ms Lewis is standing for the All People's Party, a political movement that aims "to ensure minorities, women, young people and working class people are equally and proportionately represented at the top".

And according party leader and former Labour councillor Prem Goyal, "community champion" Ms Lewis is the perfect person to further this vision.

He said: "I am very pleased to have an individual such as Madonna representing us to the people of Croydon and Sutton. She is exactly the type of leader that London needs now.”

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Madonna Lewis with campaigners

Ms Lewis has promised to "fight hard for the people of Croydon and Sutton" if elected.

According to her party, Ms Lewis has attended multiple educational institutions in Africa and the UK, receiving qualifications in computing and information technology.

She worked as a bank cashier before moving to work in recruitment services for South Chelsea College, where she worked for 27 years until 2015.

Richard Edmonds (National Front)

Of all the candidates, the National Front's Richard Edmonds has perhaps the most colourful history.

Over four decades of involvement in far-right politics, the former maths teacher has held senior positions in the National Front and the British National Party (BNP), including a prominent role in the BNP Croydon branch.

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Richard Edmonds

In 1994 he was given a six-month prison sentence for his involvement in the racist attack of a black man who was hit in the face with a glass.

He is also believed to have been the publisher of a magazine which described the Holocaust as an "evil hoax".

Mr Edmonds stood as the National Front's candidate in Carshalton and Wallington at last May's General Election. He won 49 votes.