I am today officially endorsing Cllr Craig Mackinlay for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent.
Cllr Mackinlay is the former UKIP acting leader and parliamentary candidate who turned to the Conservative Party in 2006. He stood in the Labour-held River ward on Medway Council in 2007 and stole one of their two seats.
Indeed, I was privileged enough to have campaigned with Cllr Mackinlay on behalf of Mark Reckless in May 2010, David Craggs in August 2010, Andrew Mackness in October 2010 and Craig Mackinlay and Andrew Mackness in May 2011.
Three of those elections were incredible successes; the fourth, in October 2010, still saw an increase in the number of Conservatives turning out to vote.
Since being first elected, Cllr Mackinlay has proven he has what it takes to be a strong and successful PCC; he has both worked with Kent Police and argued against them as circumstances dictated.
The PCC has the important role of managing the budget and setting the priorities for Kent Police.
As a chartered accountant, managing a balanced yet effective £300m budget will not prove problematic for Cllr Mackinlay – and he has pledged to keep the front line intact against growing central government austerity.
Meanwhile, he has set out a clear manifesto for policing priorities in Kent – influenced by discussions with concerned residents, his role on the Kent Police Authority and his role as a magistrate on the North Kent Bench.
There are two hurdles remaining for the three candidates who have been nominated and shortlisted: the Conservative Party hustings in Tonbridge on 9 June, Canterbury on 15 June and Hoo on 17 June, before the successful Conservative candidate then seeks the approval of the Kent electorate on 15 November.
I will, of course, be supporting whoever ultimately becomes the Conservative Party candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent.
However, I hope that Conservatives across Kent and Medway will recognise that Cllr Craig Mackinlay is the most suitable candidate to fly the Conservative banner in November and give their vote to him in their selection meeting next month.