Toms lines up for Nationals

IF RICHIE Williamson thought The Nationals had forgiven him, he was wrong.

The man most people thought would-be the lead contender to take The Nationals to the up-coming by-election has now been relegated to second place.

Yesterday, Clarence Valley councillor Karen Toms spoke exclusively to The Daily Examiner to announce her intention to seek National Party pre-selection.

"I want people to know there is someone else who is capable of doing the job," Ms Toms said.

"Six months ago, Richie was an independent. I just don't understand how he can backflip and now decide to represent The Nationals.

"Because for me, it's not about politics; it's about taking care of my community - that's what I do best.

"The Clarence Valley deserves a representative who has taken on the job for the right reasons - not for personal ambition."

Ms Toms was asked to consider pre-selection by a number of senior members of The Nationals - and it wasn't the first time she had been approached.

"I was first approached a couple of years ago about running for state government but I just laughed and said I was flattered - I hadn't even thought about it," she said.

"This time, however, I've given it some thought and I've decided I'm going to do it.

"I believe in taking care of my community and I'm not prepared to let the position go to someone who is not totally committed to representing the community.

"And considering Richie's strong convictions at the last election I am disappointed those convictions no longer seem important."

One of those who convinced Ms Toms to stand was chair of the Grafton branch of The Nationals, Peter James.

"I've been impressed with Karen's work as a councillor for some time," he said.

"Karen has proved to be a person who takes a keen interest in local issues (and is) prepared to follow-up and deliver on results.

Mr James conceded if Richie Williamson sought Nationals' pre-selection, he may be viewed with cynicism.

"I think there will be many in the electorate who feel there's a degree of opportunism involved in a switch such as that in such a short period of time," he said.

"And I think Richie would be on the defensive having to explain his position."

Also backing Ms Toms' pre-selection is former Grafton mayor, Shirley Adams.

"I've been watching Karen very closely ... and I think she is the right person to represent The Nationals," Mrs Adams said.

"I believe it would be a good change for The Nats to have someone like Karen to lead the team in the Clarence.

"I'd like to think The Nationals won't give Richie pre-selection."

There were widespread rumours yesterday another possible contender for National Party pre-selection would be Casino-based Stuart George, son of sitting Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George. Stuart George did not return The Examiner's calls.

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