By Rob Owers

In just five weeks Londoners will vote to decide who takes office and control of a budget worth £17bn. With the debate well underway, we’re kick-starting this new phase of the campaign with a series of live candidate Q&A sessions at Twitter UK.

#LondonVotesThe official list of candidates in the running to replace Boris Johnson as the new Mayor of London was released on Twitter first today, as the race for City Hall intensifies.

Throughout next week we’ll be hosting a number of these candidates at our #LondonVotes hub, where they’ll be taking questions about their plans for the capital direct from voters on Twitter. The hashtags needed to get involved are below, so whether it’s about the tube network, air pollution, police & fire services or new homes… Get your question in about the issue you care about:

Political debate lives on Twitter

Live, public discussion is the beating heart of Twitter, no more so than with political debate. People can connect directly with those in power, and those seeking it. Everyone can now make sure that those with influence understand their situation and hear their voices. Critical decisions are being questioned and important issues are being debated openly, with new ideas and campaigns bubbling up and building momentum.

Independent research carried out just before last year’s General Election found that more than a third of UK Twitter users have changed their vote from one party to another based on something they have seen on Twitter. The study found that 45% of Twitter users aged 18-34 became interested in or joined a political or social cause after first learning about it through Twitter.

There won’t be many of the 8.6 million Londoners whose lives won’t be affected by the outcome, so we’re encouraging everyone to #takepower on Twitter by pressing the candidates on their ideas about the city’s future, before getting out there on Thursday May 5th and using their vote.