Over the past decade, Pioneer SMC has been transformed from a far-flung residential area into a well-connected town with a stadium, an additional MRT station, and now a polyclinic in the pipeline.
These give People's Action Party candidate Cedric Foo, 55, who was MP for the ward for 14 years, room for optimism in the straight fight against National Solidarity Party's (NSP) Mr Elvin Ong, 37, for the hearts of 25,458 voters there.
But the NSP is no stranger to the ward, having contested the SMC in 2011. Then, Mr Foo won 60.73 per cent of the vote against his opponent, Mr Steve Chia of the NSP. And Mr Ong said he began walking the ground there three years ago.
Mr Foo, a chief financial officer, said his team's focus has always been on the residents and its "track record speaks for itself".
He noted that 14 years ago, the estate "lacked everything, except HDB flats". Today, the ward has many amenities, with more in the works, including a market and a mosque. "There are exciting plans that lie ahead of us, and I hope to continue to get residents' support, (so) we can make them come true," Mr Foo told The Straits Times.
Residents such as Mr Liew Ah Heng, 67, who moved into Pioneer 15 years ago, have felt the change. "Back then, nobody wanted to live here as there were no amenities. But now, living here has become very convenient," he said.
NSP's Mr Ong, a technical specialist, said he hopes to be the "true voice" of the electorate if he makes it to Parliament. Noting that many residents are from the working class, he hopes to tackle issues such as the competition for jobs. "The Government should keep the opportunities for the locals," he said.
To improve the ward, he said that while he does not have a ready solution, he wants to work with the Land Transport Authority to sort out the morning peak-hour jams affecting residents.
Developments seem to be "quite stagnant" in the past few years, he said, and new plans were unveiled only months before the elections. "Are they sincere in doing it, or is it just to win votes?" Mr Ong asked.
Mr Foo said in response that plans for the mosque were announced in 2011, with the ground-breaking last June. Eight childcare centres have opened progressively since 2011, he said, adding that he also urged the Education Ministry to get Frontier Primary School opened a few years ahead of schedule, in 2012.
Mr Foo said his team has delivered on its promises - such as one made in 2011 to have closed-circuit television cameras installed at HDB void decks to boost security. A year later, this was done for all 109 blocks, making Pioneer the only estate to have this feature.
But with new amenities under way, residents hope existing ones get a facelift.
As for the candidates, freelance producer Zann Yap, 32, said: "Both appear to be working hard. I'll see what they have to say at the rally. I'll vote for the one who has a good plan for Pioneer."