Ararat's Jo Armstrong and Tatyoon's Leila Sweeney-McDougall nominate for Western Victoria Region upper house seat for National party

Two Ararat region women have nominated for preselection to contest one of the state upper house seats in Western Victoria Region for the National party.

Ararat Rural City Councillor Jo Armstrong and Leila Sweeney-McDougall from Tatyoon have thrown their hats in the ring.

They will compete with Andrew Black from Miners Rest, Warrnambool City councillor Michael Neoh and Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank from Portland.

Mr Neoh ran for the Nationals at the 2015 South West Coast by-election, and was ultimately defeated by Liberal MP Roma Britnell.

Cr Rank ran for Liberal party preselection for South West Coast in the same by-election.

The preselection will take place in Ballarat on June 23 and the State Election will be held on November 24.

State President of The Nationals Neil Pankhurst described the aspiring candidates as “outstanding local champions”.

“The quality of the preselection field demonstrates the strength of The Nationals in Western Victoria,” he said.

“Each of them would make a fine addition to our Parliamentary team and help us fight for a better deal for Regional Victoria.”

Cr Armstrong and Mrs Sweeney-McDougall did not respond to a request for comment before publication deadline.

Should Cr Armstrong win the preselection battle and stand as a Nationals candidate and win the seat, it would almost certainly end her term on Ararat Rural City Council.

That hypothetical situation would create the fourth vacancy on council in less than a year, following the resignations of Paul Hooper, Glenda McLean and Darren Ford earlier this year.

The Victorian Electoral Commission has relied on countbacks from the 2016 Ararat Rural City election to fill the previous vacancies.

The Western Victoria Region holds five of 40 seats in the state’s Legislative Council, or upper house of parliament.

The National Party held one of the seats until 2014, when David O'Brien was defeated by Vote 1 Local Jobs MP James Purcell.

Labor currently holds two of the seats with Ballarat’s Jaala Pulford and Geelong’s Gayle Tierney.

The Liberal Party holds the remaining seats with Ballarat’s Joshua Morris and Geelong’s Simon Ramsay.

The seats cover almost 80,000 square kilometres west of Geelong and south of Nhill and Wedderburn.