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A smiling Chris Gulaptis enjoys a quiet celebration with family and friends in his campaign office on Saturday night L-R Vicki and Chris Gulaptis, Lee and DJ Brown and Graeme and Margaret Dobbin. Image: contributed

Gulaptis increases winning margin

Geoff Helisma |

Nationals incumbent for the seat of Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, has won the two party preferred contest in a canter, receiving 64.66 per cent of the vote at last Saturday’s NSW election – up from 59.7 per cent at the 2015 election.

Mr Gulaptis attributed his improved performance, in regard to the valley’s voters, to his government’s “delivery of services and infrastructure that the Clarence Valley has longed for, [including] the new Grafton bridge, the highway, the gaol and funding community groups and sport organisations”.

“There’s a level of confidence within the Clarence Valley that [we] haven’t been forgotten, we’ve seen opportunities fulfilled as a as result of government investment,” he said.

“The north coast is a tough area, with discerning constituents; we need to be able to align with their values and aspirations.”

Country Labor’s two party preferred vote dropped from 40.3 per cent to 35.34 per cent.

Mr Gulaptis’s first preference count, however, was down from 50.4 per cent to 45.69 per cent, most likely as a result of former Nationals member Steve Cansdell standing for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

Mr Cansdell picked up 18.06 per cent of the first preference vote.

Country Labor’s candidate, Trent Gilbert, lost ground, receiving 20.59 per cent compared to his 2015 election effort of 28.5 per cent.

Greens candidate Greg Clancy received 7.74 per cent of the vote compared to the 2015 Greens candidate Janet Cavanaugh, who attracted 9.1 per cent of the vote.

Independent candidate Debrah Novak improved her count, up from 4.7 per cent to 6.3 per cent.

First time candidate, Sustainable Australia’s Thom Khotis, received 1.61 per cent of the vote.

Note: the above figures may have varied by the time of publication.