by Chris Tobin
The National Party’s new candidate for the Rangitata electorate should be known by the end of next week.
Party spokesman Mark Nicholson said on Tuesday he could not divulge the number of candidates who had come forward. Nominations closed at noon yesterday.
“All I can say is there has been good interest.”
A candidate who has come forward is Stacey Scott (43), who runs project management company Scott & Associates in Timaru. Married with four primary school-aged children, she welcomed the opportunity to stand, she said.
“For the last 20 years I’ve been trying to broaden my business experience and general management to work towards this.”
A member of the National Party for three years, she was confident there would be a strong pro-National vote in the electorate despite the fallout from MP Andrew Falloon’s scandal.
Mr Nicholson said three meetings would be held in the electorate by party members to pick a replacement for Mr Falloon, who resigned in disgrace as the Rangitata MP after a sex-text scandal in which he allegedly sent pornographic images to women.
At least five women have said they received unsolicited explicit messages from him. Police are investigating the case.
Rangitata electorate chairman Colin Truman said the region’s National Party supporters had been blindsided by Mr Falloon’s actions.
He would not comment on any possible voter backlash against National in the electorate.
“We’re moving forward. His [Mr Falloon’s] situation is his business. We’re getting on with finding a new candidate.”
The party’s Canterbury-Westland regional chairman, Roger Bridge, said the matter of finding a new candidate would be up to the Rangitata delegates.
Asked whether the selection process would involve greater care being taken in finding a person with more life experience and maturity in light of Mr Falloon’s departure from politics as well as those of other young National MPs Hamish Walker and Todd Barclay, he said he preferred not to comment.
Labour list MP Jo Luxton has had electioneering billboards up around the electorate since July 18.
“We put up our party vote hoardings at the weekend,” Mr Truman said.
The billboards have the images of the party leader Judith Collins and deputy leader Gerry Brownlee.
Parliament will be dissolved on August 12 and parties must submit their nominations and lists by noon on August 20.