Nelmes campaign manager Declan Clausen, 22, hot favourite to fill Newcastle Ward 3 council vacancy

Declan Clausen, who is the favourite to fill the vacancy on Newcastle council.
Declan Clausen, who is the favourite to fill the vacancy on Newcastle council.

A 22-YEAR-old has emerged as the hot favourite to fill the vacancy on Newcastle council which was created by the weekend promotion of Labor’s Nuatali Nelmes to lord mayor.

Declan Clausen, an environmental engineering student and Young Labor president, ran Ms Nelmes’ campaign.

Party sources said several Labor members have expressed interest in standing at the Ward 3 byelection which will likely be held next February, but the former Lambton High School captain is currently the most strongly supported.

A byelection to fill Ms Nelmes’ former role is required because the full council elections are still more than 18 months away. Only residents of Newcastle’s Ward 3 will have to vote at such an election. That includes an area essentially bordered by Kotara, New Lambton, Waratah and Jesmond.

Meanwhile, the Greens have preselected Phillipa Parsons as the party’s Swansea candidate for the March 28 state election.

The former Lake Macquarie councillor said she will campaign on the theme of ‘‘integrity and sustainability’’.

‘‘We are living through some very challenging times,’’ Ms Parsons said.

‘‘People have lost faith in the political leaders and that needs to be addressed.

‘‘The large percentage of people who didn’t cast a vote in the October byelections ought to send a message loud and clear to both old parties. The community wants honesty, transparency and accountability to the people.’’

While the voter turnout at last month’s state byelections was low, the turnout at Saturday’s lord mayoral byelection was even lower.

The latest voting figures released on Monday show more than 26,500 people failed to vote in the lord mayoral poll and can look forward to getting a $55 fine in the mail. That comes on top of the 5051 informal votes that were lodged, meaning more than 31,500 votes were either ruled out or not made at all.

Electoral Commission figures show that just 88,259 people out of Newcastle’s 114,829 eligible voters headed to the polls on Saturday. That equates to a voter turnout of about 77 per cent which, while low compared to full elections, is considered high for a byelection.