The countdown is on until the party faithful decides The Nationals candidate to contest the seat of Cowper at the federal election.
There are three contenders – local solicitor Patrick Conaghan, newsagent Chris Genders and business owner and electrician Jamie Harrison.
MP Luke Hartsuyker is retiring from federal politics at the next federal election after representing the Cowper electorate for 17 years.
Mr Conaghan, who grew up in Kempsey, was a police officer for 12 years, including time as a detective and police prosecutor.
He has worked as a solicitor for the past 18 years and was a North Sydney councillor for four a half years.
Mr Conaghan said if he was preselected, and if he was was elected, he didn’t want to be a seat warmer.
“I want to actually do things, represent Cowper and be visible,” he said.
Mr Conaghan said he was quite excited by the prospect and he didn’t mind the challenge.
Mr Genders grew up in the Nambucca Valley and has called Port Macquarie home for 21 years.
“I'm standing [for preselection] because I believe I have a lot to offer, not just for this area, but for the entire electorate of Cowper,” he said.
“I’ve been listening to my customers and I’ve had overwhelming support from my customers to put my hat in the ring.”
Mr Genders and his wife Fiona own two newsagencies in Port Macquarie.
“I understand what the local issues are,” he said.
Mr Harrison owns an electrical business, spent about four years as a Port Macquarie-Hastings councillor, has been an active member of Port Macquarie Surf Lifesaving Club for 25 years and has been on the race club board for a decade.
“I’ve always been a community-minded person,” he said.
“I get a buzz out of helping people and actually achieving something.
“I’m of an age where I think this [preselection] is my chance. These opportunities don’t come up very often.”
Mr Harrison said Cowper was an interesting electorate because it had two large centres experiencing similar growth problems.
Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour are the southern and northern bookends respectively of the Cowper electorate.
Cowper also includes Kempsey, Nambucca Heads, Macksville and South West Rocks.
November 3 marks the The Nationals Cowper preselection meeting when members decide the party’s candidate to contest the federal election.
Independent candidate at the 2016 election and former federal Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott is yet to confirm if he will contest the next election.
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