FORMER Gunnedah mayor Adam Marshall and Warialda-raised Claire Coulton have thrown their hats into the ring for the Nationals’ preselection as Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay prepares to vacate the seat.
Nationals state director Ben Franklin said he had received about a dozen expressions of interest for the seat, which will go to a by-election after this year’s federal election.
Mr Torbay will contest the federal seat of New England at the next election against former mentor, incumbent Tony Windsor.
Main political parties are already vying for the independent’s state seat, which Mr Torbay has held since 1999.
Armidale Liberal Party branch president Clive O’Connor, the husband of Armidale Dumaresq councillor Margaret O’Connor, said no decision had been made about whether a candidate would be fielded for the seat.
“We (the Liberals) are running anyway, but whether it’s under the brand of the Liberals or the Nationals is a matter for head office,” Mr O’Connor said yesterday.
Meanwhile, in the Labor camp, branch president Tony Ramsay said no decision had been made about preselection.
“We’re hoping to finalise it sooner rather than later,” he said.
“We’re having good internal discussions right around the region.”
Mr Marshall, who moved to Armidale to study at the University of New England late last year, first became a councillor in 2004, aged 19 – making him one of the youngest members of local government in Australia.
He was deputy mayor in 2007, before becoming mayor in 2008.
Mr Marshall announced his intention to run for preselection, at a recent meeting of the Guyra Nationals branch.
Ms Coulton, the daughter of federal Parkes MP Mark Coulton, announced her intention to run at the same meeting.
The 30-year-old grew up in Warialda, attended PLC Armidale, is a postgraduate external student at the University of New England and travelled to London as the NSW delegate to the Commonwealth Youth Parliament.
The former teacher is cutting her political teeth working in the Sydney office of NSW Legislative Council member Niall Blair, who is also a member of the Nationals.
Ms Coulton said her first priority was supporting Mr Torbay in his federal campaign, but that she was definitely going to put her hand up for preselection.
“Even though I’m fairly young, I have a lot of life experience and I’ve lived all over NSW and overseas,” she said.
Ms Coulton said while her father only entered politics as a local government representative, he had been a significant influence on her political ambitions.
“It was a shared interest in the family,” she said.
Asked about Adam Marshall as her competition, Ms Coulton said she had only met him six months ago.
“We’re certainly friendly and on good terms,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mr Torbay remained tight-lipped on his thoughts about the two adversaries.
“It’s not my place to comment,” he said.