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Penny Sharpe to make lower house bid in Newtown

NSW Labor upper house MP Penny Sharpe has won preselection for the seat of Newtown for the 2015 State election.

More than 2500 people, most of whom were not members of the Labor party, took part in a primary-style process to select Labor candidates in Newtown and Campbelltown. 

Voting closed on Saturday evening for the preselections, in which a community vote was given a 50 per cent weighting alongside local party branch members.

Ms Sharpe, who has been a member of the NSW upper house since 2005, won preselection ahead of Natalie Gould, who runs the iconic Newtown bookshop, Goulds, and town planner Sean Macken. 

Ms Sharpe, who is Labor’s transport spokeswoman, won 64 percent of the branch vote and 58 percent of the community vote.

Former soldier Greg Warren was preselected for the seat of Campbelltown for Labor. Mr Warren won 61 per cent of the branch vote and 57 per cent of the community vote.

Around 1200 community members and 300 party members had voted in the Newtown preselection before Saturday, while around 1000 community members voted in Campbelltown.

Labor’s NSW general secretary Jamie Clements said the preselections were designed to engage the community and energise local branch members.

“Labor will be in a much stronger position at the March 2015 state election because we’ve invited local communities into the preselection process and worked hard to win their support,” he said.

The new seat of Newtown was created by a boundary change which abolished Labor MP Carmel Tebutt’s seat of Marrickville. Ms Tebbutt won’t contest the 2015 poll.

Election analyst Antony Green has tipped Newtown as ‘‘notionally Green’’, but Labor hopes the community preselection process will reach out to non-Labor voters. Campbelltown is a marginal Liberal seat.

A community preselection will also be run in Balmain, with former Labor minister verity firth seeking to contest the seat, which is currently held by the Greens Jamie Parker.

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