SEEKING YOUR VOTE: Clarence candidates Chris Gulaptis (Nationals), Steve Cansdell (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) and Trent Gilbert (Country Labor) consider questions being asked from the floor at the Meet The Candidates forum hosted by Grafton Chamber of Commerce earlier this month. The trio are tipped to be the frontrunners for the seat as voters hit the polls across the region today.
SEEKING YOUR VOTE: Clarence candidates Chris Gulaptis (Nationals), Steve Cansdell (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) and Trent Gilbert (Country Labor) consider questions being asked from the floor at the Meet The Candidates forum hosted by Grafton Chamber of Commerce earlier this month. The trio are tipped to be the frontrunners for the seat as voters hit the polls across the region today. Tim Jarrett

OPINION: Vote to put Clarence in strongest position

A VOTE for Chris Gulaptis is not a vote for more of the same over the next four years as a non-majority government looms from this NSW Election.

Mr Gulaptis has hung his hat on delivery for the Clarence, and I must applaud him and his government on the unprecedented spend the electorate has experienced during the past term.

But a non-majority Coalition government will not have the same power to splash money around for its sitting members. Worse still, a Labor government would make for a lonely four years in the halls of Sydney for Mr Gulaptis - and the people of the Clarence.

The balance of power is likely to be in the hands of the minor parties, and if you listen to Steve Cansdell, the deciding votes will lie with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.

Mr Cansdell has run a cunning campaign since re-entering the political arena last June, first forcing the government to pull up its socks, and then making the right noise at the right times in recent weeks. And if he is one of those SFF representatives calling the shots he'll be punching money bags.

A poll run on The Daily Examiner website suggests voters are warming to Mr Cansdell and prepared to give him another go, having previously held the seat for the Nationals from 2003 to 2011. He had 31 per cent of the vote to Mr Gulaptis's 29 per cent.

DEX POLL RESULTS

Who will you vote for in the seat of Clarence at the 2019 NSW Election?

Steve Cansdell (SFF)..........................31%

Chris Gulaptis (Nationals).................29%

Trent Gilbert (Labor)..........................21%

Debrah Novak (Independent)..............12%

Greg Clancy (Greens)...........................4%

Thom Kotis (Sustainable Australia).....0%

Two weeks out from the election Mr Gulaptis held the upper hand in a similar poll conducted by The Daily Examiner, with 32 per cent ahead of Cansdell on 30 per cent.

In both polls Labor's Trent Gilbert, who has chimed in with plenty of energy, was within striking distance on 20 per cent and then 21 per cent.

CANDIDATES HAVE THEIR SAY:

Yesterday, SportsBet quoted Mr Gulaptis as very short-priced $1.11 favourite, followed by Mr Gilbert ($5.50) with Mr Cansdell ($16.00) considered a real smokie; no doubt due to perceived damage to the SFF in the wake of the NZ terror attack. However, Mr Cansdell is counting on his own name outweighing party image.

Meanwhile, Debrah Novak (Independent) and Greg Clancy (Greens) are both likely to attract enough votes to affect preferences, so it's difficult to predict which challenger - Mr Gilbert or Mr Cansdell - will face off with Mr Gulaptis when the votes are counted, and whether it will be a real contest.

The Daily Examiner editor Bill North.
The Daily Examiner editor Bill North. Adam Hourigan Photography

Our team will be on the ground throughout Saturday providing up-to-date election coverage and finding the best democracy sausage in the Clarence.

Enjoy the tucker on offer at your local polling booth and make your vote count.

Bill North

Editor