Two businesswomen and a chief executive have been confirmed as the three people vying for the National Party's general election candidacy in Napier.
Founder of Smart Business NZ Ltd, Adrienne Pierce, who was elected to the Hastings District Council just four months ago, will be joined in the race by Taradale author and businesswoman Deborah Burnside and Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce's new chief executive Wayne Walford.
Mr Walford was Bob Clarkson's campaign manager when Clarkson beat Winston Peters in 2005 to become Tauranga's MP, while Mrs Burnside is the wife of former Hastings district councillor and 2011 Tukituki electorate Act candidate, Robert Burnside, with whom she runs waste company Clean Earth.
The three were the only nominees, but according to party stalwarts they have created the first race for National's candidacy in Napier for as much as half a century. Chris Tremain, standing down after three three-year terms as National's first Napier MP since the 1950s, had no opponents when he sought the candidacy.
All three hopefuls had been identified yesterday by Hawke's Bay Today as potential candidates, and it was confirmed in a party media release after a pre-selection meeting later in the day. A statement by party president Peter Goodfellow warned party selection rules prevented nominees from seeking publicity or responding to media queries about the selection before the final selection night, scheduled for March 8.
All were, however, excited to be in a contest with Labour Napier spokesman and former List MP Stuart Nash - the only nominee for his party's candidacy, expected to be announced on Monday.
Mr Nash said all three "looked like worthy candidates".
"Whoever ends up running, I look forward to it being a good, clean campaign," Mr Nash said.
"Whoever gets the nomination, I will ring them up, we'll have a cup of coffee. I don't think it will be a campaign where there's any animosity."
Mr Goodfellow said he was "extremely impressed" with the "talent" that had come forward to contest the Napier selection.
"Chris Tremain will leave big shoes to fill in this seat, but the calibre of candidates I've seen today gives me great confidence National will field a very competitive candidate for this year's election," he said.
Electorate head Lynne Trafford said: "This is an exciting time for the National Party in Napier. This process gives party members the opportunity to participate in a highly democratic process which ensures candidates are selected by their own communities.
"This is one of the fundamental reasons why party membership is so important, and such a great opportunity to pursue an interest in politics at any level."
The prospective candidates will address and answer questions from local delegates at four formal "meet the candidate" meetings over the next three weeks.