Former Latrobe City councillor Sheridan Bond is the latest candidate to declare she will seek Nationals’ preselection for the seat of Morwell.
Ms Bond served on council from 2003 until 2005 and said she was motivated to contest the seat in a bid to attract investment, tackle unemployment and deal with cost of living issues.
The former councillor works as a business manager for Traralgon-based beverage, confectionary and snackfoods distributor Aygee.
She joins current Latrobe City councillor Darren Howe among candidates who have declared their desire to contest the seat for the Nationals.
The Nationals are on the hunt for a new candidate after sitting Morwell MP Russell Northe resigned from the party in August after taking a leave of absence to deal with personal issues.
Ms Bond has been a Nationals member for a decade and has thrown her support behind the party’s plans to build a new coal-fired power station in the region.
Constructing a high-efficiency, low-emission plant “would ensure that our vast resource of coal … can be put to good use and that will create jobs”, she said.
Ms Bond would likely lobby for a restructure of the Latrobe Valley Authority if she gains preselection.
The Traralgon resident said there was a “place for the LVA” but more effort needed to be put into directing funding to areas which provided direct benefit to the community, such as attracting private investment to the region.
“What I have seen through the media, a lot of money has been spent on events and sporting infrastructure,” she said.
“It’s a really tough time for the community, we’re a very resilient community we know how to lift each other up and find a way for the community to survive and thrive.”
Mr Nothe holds Morwell on a two-party preferred margin of 1.8 per cent.
The sitting MP is yet to declare whether he will contest the seat that he won for a third time in 2014, at an election where he saw his margin slashed in the wake of community anger in the aftermath of the Hazelwood mine fire.
The Liberals have preselected sitting Latrobe City councillor Dale Harriman as their candidate, while former Hazelwood worker Mark Richards will represent Labor.
This year’s state election, which will be held in November, will mark the first time since its foundation that Morwell has not been held by one of the major parties.
Morwell was a Labor stronghold from 1970 to 2006 when a split in the local ALP branches allowed Mr Northe to oust Labor MP Brendan Jenkins despite receiving just 27.59 per cent of the primary vote.