ELECTION 2021: May 6 poll marks parliament swansong for north MSPs
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WHILE the race is on win both constituency and electoral region seats in the Scottish Parliament election, the campaign will also mark the swansong of a number of familiar north politicians.
For the SNP, Stewart Stevenson will be bidding farewell after having represented the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency – initially called Banff and Buchan – since 2001.
In the North East region, quite a few MSPs have decided not to put themselves forward for re-election.
For the Conservatives, Bill Bowman (first elected in 2016) is bowing out, as are colleagues Peter Chapman (2016) and Tom Mason (sworn in on June 20, 2017 following the resignation of Ross Thomson).
Labour will be losing the long-serving Lewis Macdonald, who was first elected to the Scottish Parliament as MSP for the Aberdeen Central constituency in 1999, becoming a list MSP after the 2011 poll. He will be joined by Jenny Marra (2011).
For the Lib Dems, Mike Rumbles will be calling it a day after 22 years as an MSP, firstly representing the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constitiuency then taking a list seat following the 2011 election.
Over in the Highlands and Islands constituency, the Greens' John Finnie will be moving on. He first entered the list as an SNP MSP in 2011 before resigning from the party the following year, initially sitting as an Independent before joining the Greens in 2014.
Experienced Labour MSP Dave Stewart, who initially entered parliament in 2007, is also leaving Holyrood.
In normal circumstances MSPs would normally stand down before the campaign starts. However, as with many other areas of life, the Covid pandemic has forced changes.
MSPs will not formally step down until May 5, primarily in case developments in the course of the pandemic force a recall of parliament.
However, they are expected not to perform most of the usual functions of MSP and at Holyrood committees and suchlike are not running.
In Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency, six candidates in all are vying to take the seat: Karen Adam (SNP); Jason Duncan (Freedom Alliance); Mark Findlater (Conservative); David McHutchon (Restore Scotland); Alison Simpson (Liberal Democrat); Georgia Strachan (Labour).
In the North East electoral region a total of 16 parties and two Independent candidates are standing.
At the polling station, voters will be given two ballot papers, one lilac in colour and the other peach. The lilac paper is for the constituency vote and the peach one is for the regional vote.
Each paper should be marked with a single cross next to the party or candidate desired.
In all, 129 seats are up for grabs on May 6, 73 of them constituency seats and 56 regional.