Big battle expected to secure fifth seat

Thursday, 16 February 2017

TWELVE candidates will be vying for North Antrim's five Assembly seats when voters go to the polls in North Antrim on March 2.
When nominations closed last Wednesday, six unionists, two independents and one each from Alliance, the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the Green Party had put their names forward.
Three outgoing MLAs, Mervyn Storey, Paul Frew and Phillip Logan are standing again for the DUP, one less than last May, which is a reflection of the fact that only five seats, one less than in 2016, are up for grabs and every first preference vote will be vital.
Mr Storey, who hails from Ballymoney, is the most experienced of the party's runners, and the only one who has held ministerial office, having been minister for Social Development under Peter Robinson's leadership.
Ballymena man, Mr Frew is the outgoing chair of the Assembly's Justice committee and a regular poll topper in the constituency.
He is known for his hard work and ability to get results on bread and butter issues for local people.
The least experienced DUP runner is Mr Logan who was elected last May and replaced party colleague, David McIlveen, at Stormont.
He set up a constituency office in Galgorm after his election and is confident his record to date will stand him in good stead come polling day.
The TUV candidates are party leader and outgoing MLA, Jim Allister and former Mid and East Antrim Deputy Mayor, Timothy Gaston, who was added to the party ticket after what was described as favourable canvassing on the doorsteps.
Seasoned political commentators regarded Mr Allister as one of the last Assembly's most effective MLAs.
He is well known as a thorn in the flesh of the Executive and is vehemently opposed to the government system of mandatory coalition, believing passionately it should be scrapped immediately. Mr Gaston stood in last May's Assembly's election, polling a respectable 1,955 first preference votes and is hopeful of another strong showing.
*Read the full story in this week's Ballymoney Chronicle.


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