Richie among seven to run for Nats

SEVEN candidates, including the Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson, have signed up to seek National Party pre-selection for the vacant seat of Clarence.

Nominations for the National Party candidacy closed at 5pm yesterday and there were only two candidates who had not previously been announced.

One of those was Mr Williamson who had said he was considering contesting but hadn't made a final decision, and Maclean businessman Jason Cleary, who resides on Woodford Island.

The remaining five candidates are; Stuart George, Paul O'Connor, Chris Gulaptis, Fiona Leviny and Karen Toms.

Mr George, Mr Gulaptis, Mr Williamson and Ms Toms all have current or previous experience in local government and Mr Williamson (Independent, Clarence - 2011) and Mr Gulaptis (Nationals, Page - 2007) have previously run for state or federal politics.

Mr Challacombe said Mr Cleary was relatively new to the area and had said he was active in the Liberal National Party in Queensland before coming to the Clarence.

He said it was pleasing to see such strong interest in contesting the seat for the Nationals.

"They have come out of the woodwork," he said.

"It is an interesting line up of candidates.

"Some have been involved in the party for a long time and some are relatively new."

Mr Challacombe said it was originally intended that the ballot for preselection would be held this weekend, but rank and file members had convinced the party's head office to allow enough time for candidates to address branch meetings before a ballot on October 16.

He said it would be a secret ballot and votes would be tallied using the same preferential voting system as was used in federal elections. Candidates would each be given about 10 minutes to speak at the preselection meeting before the ballot was held, he said.

About 300 financial members in the Clarence electorate are eligible to vote and Mr Challacombe said he believed the strong interest from candidates would be reflected by the membership.

"They (the candidates) will be contacting as many members as possible explaining why they believe they should get the nomination," he said.

No candidates have been announced for the Labor Party.

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