Labor candidate Tony Judge on the campaign trail in February with shadow minister for Regional Development David Harris.
Labor candidate Tony Judge on the campaign trail in February with shadow minister for Regional Development David Harris. TREVOR VEALE

Candidates welcome a new era for the seat of Coffs Harbour

WITH the state election done and dusted Labor candidate Tony Judge was able to have his first surf in seven weeks.

He's also taken the opportunity to congratulate Gurmesh Singh who looks certain to be Coffs Harbour's next State MP.

With counting yet to be completed its neck and neck for second place with Mr Judge on 17.69 per cent of first preference votes just ahead of Independent Sally Townley with 17.65 per cent.

Mr Judge has thanked the many volunteers who supported his campaign including Pat McCarthy who was there all day every day at pre-polling and on election day.

"With my basic maths that's 112 hours he put in, so I want to thank him along with all the other volunteers.”

The first-time candidate admits feeling a little disappointed at the result but is pleased to see The Nationals with a reduced margin.

"It looks like this seat is in play and when you see a reduced margin like this, it means we are more likely to get recognised.”

Cr Sally Townley. 01 AUG 2018
Independent candidate Sally Townley says she would run again. Trevor Veale

Independent Sally Townley echoed this sentiment saying it was the dawn of a new era for the seat.

"We are really happy, we've had so many supporters and there is just such a feeling of change in the electorate for the first time in a very long time.

"I'm so humbled that people have taken on the idea that there is an alternative, that we can be cleaner, greener and more sustainable. So many people out there want that for their future.

"What it also shows is this is no longer a safe Nationals seat,” Dr Townley said.

On a less positive note Mr Judge said the atmosphere at pre-polling deteriorated as election day drew near.

"The atmosphere was friendly and co-operative but there were exceptions and this was disappointing.

"From the volunteers for The National party there was a lot of hectoring and negative comments and things like standing within other volunteers' personal space.”

Asked if he would run again Mr Judge had this to say:

"Everyone asks that. I'm going to take a few weeks off and not think about it too much.

Dr Townley has no doubts saying 'yes definitely' - she would run again.

"We've really built a network of those people who share common views and I'm really thrilled for this community.”