Chris Gulaptis and wife Vick celebrate Chris' win in the Clarence election.
Chris Gulaptis and wife Vick celebrate Chris' win in the Clarence election. Adam Hourigan

Gulaptis claims victory, and looks to healthy future

AT HIS third state election, Chris Gulaptis admitted there were still a few butterflies as he waited for the count with supporters, staff and volunteers last night.

However, the result became clear early in the night, with Mr Gulaptis claiming victory just after 8pm, with what appears to be an increased majority.

"There are always butterflies, but I was confident going in because I believed were were responding to the needs of the community,” he said.

After counting finished Saturday night, Mr Gulaptis held 64.55 per cent of the two party preferred vote over Country Labor candidate Trent Gilbert.

"It's good to have increased our margin because it means we're trending the right way and we're obviously satisfying the needs of Clarence,” Gulaptis said.

"We've clearly been delivering exactly what the people of Clarence want. We're delivering the services they want and it's evident by the vote that we've just seen.

"It's not by chance, the community have asked for all these services for years, and we're finally delivering.”

Mr Gulaptis said the materialising of many infrastructure builds such as the new bridge and jail, as well as the money into the art gallery, Rushforth Park and other community and cultural events were all things teh community expected and were being delivered.

"We're servicing the needs of regional NSW and Clarence in particular, and that's why I've been returned.”

Mr Gulaptis paid tribute to the "true believers” - his supporters, staff and volunteers that believed that the Nationals were the party that represented the country.

"It's a team effort, and going forward, with what looks like the Nationals in government we will be able to deliver the sort of services we want,” he said.

Looking forward, Gulaptis said that apart from an increase in frontline staff in areas such as policing, nursing and teaching, the focus would be on issues such as youth mental health, youth unemployment and also homelessness in the area.

And after hundreds of text messages and phone calls of congratulation, including one after his victory speech from rival Steve Cansdell, Gulaptis said the campaign had been fought in good spirit.

"It was a clean campaign and reported fairly by the media. I think every candidate got a fair chance to explain their policies and there were no unfounded criticisms,” he said.

"(The win) is a relief because retaining the seat is important not just for me as a member of the Nationals, but to continue to deliver for the community as we have in the past four years.

"We've got a healthy budget, and I want to make sure we can get a slide of that budget right here.”

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