Ballina Shire has little new blood with only three new faces on its 10-seat council after preferences were distributed over the past two days.
The mayoral election was a cliffhanger early on, but Alstonville schoolteacher David Wright, a former mayor and deputy mayor, beat Cr Sharon Cadwallader on preferences, with the final vote 9,323 to 7,646.
This morning, the C-ward councillors were revealed after the final computer-assisted preference-vote distribution was relayed from the NSW Electoral Commission’s Sydney computer to the returning office in Mullumbimby.
Dark horse and first-time candidate Paul Worth won the C-Ward count, followed by Cr Keith Johnson and his council ally Cr Ben Smith.
Cr Johnson and his wife Barbara were the only candidates attending the declaration of the poll by returning officer Ian Smith and he cheered when his ally Ben Smith’s name showed up as the third councillor from that ward, after a few tense seconds.
Smith pipped out the Greens’ Effie Ablett.
In A Ward, Crs Sue Meehan and Robyn Hordern were returned with independent retiree Ken Johnston taking third spot.
In B Ward, Cr Cadwallader took first place, followed by Greens Cr Jeff Johnson then first-time candidate Keith Williams in third spot.
Mr Williams and his wife Rochelle are well known in the area for running Australian Seabird Rescue.
The Ballina election differs from others on the north coast, with its ward system dividing the area geographically each with its own set of candidates, and residents are only entitled to vote for the candidates in the ward they live in.
It is seen in some quarters as an out-of-date system that works against progressive politicians at a local level.