VOTERS will go to the polls in Cowdenbeath today to elect a new MSP to the Scottish Parliament.
The seat has been vacant since the death of Labour MSP Helen Eadie in November, just days after it emerged she was being treated for cancer.
Seven candidates will stand in the constituency, where Labour is defending a majority of just over 1,200.
Fife Council leader Alex Rowley is defending the seat for Labour.
He said: “People can either elect an SNP candidate who will put breaking up Britain before anything else, or elect me and get a strong, local voice in Holyrood who will always put Fifers first.
“People are fed up with the SNP putting Scotland on hold to fight a referendum. People want the Scottish Government to use the powers they have now to make the difference people are wanting to see.”
Charity worker Natalie McGarry is contesting the seat for the SNP, which is seeking to shore up its majority at Holyrood, which has diminished since the Scottish general election in 2011.
She said: “If I am elected I will use my vote to deliver extended childcare and to fund free school meals for children in primaries one to three, saving families at least £330 for every eligible child.
“I will back the Scottish budget and secure the council tax freeze that will save Fife households more than £1,600 on average by 2016/17.”
The Conservatives are fielding Fife councillor Dave Dempsey. He said: “I believe I’m the candidate best-placed to represent the people of this constituency and make a very tangible difference to their lives.”
IT consultant Jane Holden is hoping to swell the ranks of the Liberal Democrats, which were reduced from 16 MSPs to just five at the last election.
She said: “Liberal Democrats have pressed the Scottish Government to follow our lead on childcare and provide more families in Cowdenbeath with essential free care.
“Jobs, taxes and support for families are the big topics that people have raised with me during the campaign.
“Liberal Democrats have a record of delivery on all these issues that I would work with Willie Rennie to build on as MSP for Cowdenbeath.”
One candidate has pledged to give half his salary to charity if elected.
Stuart Graham is standing for the Victims Final Right Party, which was launched by the family of Colin Marr, whose death is being reinvestigated after initially being dismissed as suicide.
Mr Graham said: “The journey I have taken over the last six and a half years to pursue the truth has been a difficult road, but one which was made easier by the many people who assisted our family with expert advice and professional assistance at no cost.
“Pledging half my salary to charity will go some way towards repaying this overwhelming kindness while showing the constituents of Cowdenbeath that I am committed to the job in hand by retaining half the salary. “
Denise Baykal will contest the seat for the UK Independence Party and James Trolland will stand for the Scottish Democratic Alliance.