LABOR has launched an early bid to steal the seat of Tamworth with Stephen Mears confirmed as its candidate for next year’s election.
Labor has never held the Tamworth electorate, but Mr Mears said he’s not in the race to come second.
He was hoping to launch his campaign in coming weeks, but he believed National Party staffers had outed him to local media.
“I’ll let readers read into that,” he told The Leader.
“Perhaps they are a little concerned.”
He said there were a number of frustrations which had prompted him to run in the 2019 state election and he signalled TAFE would be a key battleground in the campaign.
“We've had some infrastructure spending in the region, but it’s been massively delayed in timing and getting things sorted,” he said.
“Things like the intermodal hub, the Gunnedah bypass, it’s nice to have those things announced, but how long have we had to wait.”
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He said there were a number of broader concerns which were impacting on the community too.
“A major concern, it’s not just in Tamworth, but the rest of the state, is the pulling apart of TAFE,” he said
“Again, we’ve had some infrastructure spending, but there’s issues with massive declines in staff and students.”
He hoped the state vote would be a bit quieter than the recent New England by-election which saw 17 candidates put their hats in the ring.
Thank you Kelly. We have been discussing, with the media, an announcement date and making preparations. I suppose I owe thanks to Mr Anderson's office for 'outing' me and giving me sought after media coverage. I will, I am sure, chat to you shortly. https://t.co/e3kY6PCQWZ— Stephen Mears -Labor Candidate for Tamworth (@smea8478) 5 September 2018
Mr Mears didn’t know if the recent string of candidate announcements would prompt other contenders to come forward.
“I do know of one, but I won’t out that person, that’s squarely upon that person,” he said.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Jeff Bacon is the only other registered candidate for Tamworth, while incumbent Kevin Anderson will stand for Nationals pre-selection later this month as the party’s sole nominee.