National candidates

First NZ Herald reports:

A staffer in East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully’s local office has been selected to contest the seat at next year’s election.

Erica Stanford works in a senior role in McCully’s local electorate office and has worked overseas in export sales roles.

McCully has been MP for East Coast Bays since 1987 and in February announced he would not contest the seat next year, saying he would retire from Parliament when his time as foreign minister ended.

Stanford is highly likely to enter Parliament next year – the North Shore electorate is a safe National seat, with McCully holding an almost 17,000-strong majority over closest challenger Colin Craig in 2014.

Stanford said she was thrilled to be selected.

“Having been raised here, and now in turn raising my own kids here, I’m not exaggerating when I say I think it’s the best place to live in Auckland.

Describing Erica primarily as a staffer is very much underselling her. She’s also a self-employed story producer for television, a sales director for Powerforce and has extensive export experience.

Also Newshub reports:

One of Prime Minister John Key’s confidants and former senior advisors is set to enter Parliament, with Newshub learning she is being lined up as National’s Wellington Central candidate.

Nicola Willis has launched a challenge against incumbent candidate and list MP Paul Foster-Bell for the party’s nomination, which opens in January.

Ms Willis is a corporate high-flyer, currently holding a senior position at Fonterra as the general manager of nutrient management, pushing sustainability initiatives across some of the dairy giant’s farms.

Before that, she was in charge of Fonterra’s stakeholder management portfolio which saw her wining and dining important figures from the public and private sectors, and from overseas.

She worked as John Key’s senior advisor from 2006 – 2011, when he was Opposition Leader, and then Prime Minister.

“When nominations do open, it is my intention to put forward my nomination and to stand for the candidacy,” she told Newshub.

“This is a decision I’ve come to after lots of conversation with my family. It’s up to the National Party members to decide who their candidate is, so it’s them I’ll be focused on,” says Ms Willis. …

Ms Willis lives in Auckland with her husband Duncan Small, and their four children. Mr Small used to work for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet before taking a top job at Air New Zealand.

She grew up in Wellington and her parents live in Kelburn.

And Newshub also reports on another possibility:

Rumours are circulating that former Porirua mayor and ex-Labour stalwart Nick Leggett could be standing in the Mana electorate at next year’s election for the National Party.

Mr Leggett’s previously been flagged as a future Labour Party leader but he could be about to jump ship, and stand for National in Wellington’s Mana electorate.

It’s up for grabs following Hekia Parata’s decision to leave politics however Mr Leggett says nothing is official – yet.

“I would never say never but I say that in the widest possible sense,” he said.

“I won’t rule out standing for any, I think that would be silly to.”

He says his focus in the short term is building up his consultancy company.

Great to see so many talented people standing or thinking of standing.

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