STUART GEORGE
STUART GEORGE

Tough choice for Nationals

WITH just one day to go before The Nationals choose a candidate for the Clarence by-election, there is still no clear leader.

The Daily Examiner understands, however, that Karen Toms and Chris Gulaptis may be the two leading contenders.

Nationals' insiders believe Richie Williamson may have to serve a period of penance before being given a shot at Parliament; while some think Stuart George may be too much of a risk following the disclosure of business debts.

Nationals electorate council chair Jeremy Challacombe said all seven candidates had the potential to win the seat.

"It's going to be a very difficult decision for the members on Sunday," Mr Challacombe said.

One of the two female candidates seeking preselection, Fiona Leviny, said she was feeling "relaxed" in the lead-up to tomorrow.

"I am very relaxed that we will have a very good representative," she said.

Ms Leviny said she had enjoyed the pre-selection process of meeting and speaking with local constituents.

"I have met so many wonderful, down-to-earth, committed people who feel passionate about the twin valleys - both the Richmond and the Clarence," she said,

The other female candidate, Karen Toms, said she was getting very positive feedback from the community.

"I feel that I'm up there with a chance of being pre-selected," Ms Toms said. "I'm working hard to show people that I'm here for the community and the feedback I've received shows people appreciate that."

Chris Gulaptis, who stood as a Nationals candidate for the seat of Page in 2007, said he was expecting a good day tomorrow.

"We got seven candidates (and) The Nationals have very democratic elections for its pre-selection and it's good to be part of a democratic process where you can pull up seven strong candidates."

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson was also upbeat about Sunday's pre-selection.

"It's been good. Every candidate has been turning up to the meet-the-candidates pre-selection night," he said. "A lot of very, very good and relevant questions have been put to the candidates.

"The members are certainly going to have a difficult job on Sunday choosing the best person to represent The Nationals at the by-election."

Casino's Stuart George said he had "thoroughly enjoyed" the pre-selection process.

Paul O'Connor was unable to be contacted and Jason Cleary declined to comment.

The by election will be held on November 19.

Nominations close on November 3.



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