Candidate pre-selected

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro in Cootamundra on Monday morning with National Party candidate for the seat of Cootamundra Steph Cooke.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro in Cootamundra on Monday morning with National Party candidate for the seat of Cootamundra Steph Cooke.

Members of The Nationals in the Cootamundra electorate on Sunday selected Steph Cooke to be their candidate in the upcoming by-election in Cootamundra, following Katrina Hodgkinson’s announcement of her retirement.

Ms Cooke will seek to take over the reins from Ms Hodgkinson who has been a member of State Parliament for 18 years.

Katrina Hodgkinson said she was thrilled that local members of The Nationals had their say in the pre-selection.

“Steph is a fantastic candidate – running businesses across the electorate, with florists in Cootamundra, Young and Temora, she travels extensively and spent a long time dealing with locals at the most important junctions in their lives – weddings, funerals, when they are sick and when they welcome new babies into their family.”

Ms Cooke’s business ‘Native Botanical’ also won NSW ‘Florist of the Year’ earlier this year and she’s previously advocated on behalf of small bakeries across country NSW.

“Steph cut her teeth standing for small bakeries all across NSW against big unions and vested interests as the Executive Director of the Baking Industry Association of NSW, so she knows how to fight for country people” she said.

“A long-time local, Steph has lived 37 of her 41 years in the district. She knows the issues that matter to locals, because she lives them daily,” she said.

Steph is married to Keith Duran, principal of Young High School and her parents are life-long members of the Nationals. Both are from the Temora / West Wyalong areas.

“I have known Steph for a number of years now and she’s very determined, intelligent and considerate person,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“I know that she’s made of the right stuff to stand up for Cootamundra, and make sure our voice is heard.

Ms Cooke said that she was looking forward to hitting the campaign trail by getting on the road.

“I’ll be getting out there and speaking to everyone over the next couple of months, in all our small towns, all our country communities,” she said.