Country Labor Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has shown how popular she really is by scoring a first-past-the-post victory in the Lismore mayoral elections on the weekend. Cr Dowell scored a remarkable 53.7 per cent of the primary vote, making the counting of preferences unnecessary.
The same can’t be said in Ballina or Byron, where the key mayoral candidates were still battling it out at the end of counting last night.
Of the 24,199 votes counted in Lismore, Cr Dowell received an unbeatable 12,502. Her nearest competitor, National-leaning independent Neil Marks, scored just 21.8 per cent or 5,054 votes.
Even more extraordinary than the election result was the outcome of the council’s poll on coal-seam gas (CSG), which returned an incredible 86.89 per cent ‘no’ vote to the question ‘Do you support CSG exploration and production in the Lismore City Council area?’.
Echonetdaily bumped into Dowell at the Tropical Fruits Fair Day yesterday morning, where she was already out and about performing her mayoral duties. She said it was ‘a great endorsement’ to have received such a resounding vote and she was ‘thrilled’ to be continuing in her role as mayor for another term.
She described the vote on CSG as ‘resounding’ and said it confirmed the council was on the right track in its opposition to the practice.
In Byron Shire the heat was turned up on the expected wrangle between left and right, with conservative independent Diane Woods on 30.6 per cent (4,728 votes) trailing The Greens’ Simon Richardson on 37.47 per cent (5,789). Assuming he picks up the preferences from Our Sustainable Futures’ (OSF) Basil Cameron (11.61 per cent) and Independent Morgan (1.92 per cent), Richardson will just get over the line with 51 per cent of the vote.
The maverick in Byron was Sol Ibrahim (Vision in Action) who scored 13.97 per cent of the mayoral vote despite having never been a councillor. His preferences will be directed towards Woods. But even assuming all of these went to Cr Woods, along with 4.43 per cent from perennial abolitionist Jack Sugarman, it would still be insufficient to see Woods elected (49 per cent).
The Greens in Ballina Shire have failed in their daring bid to dominate council. The battle there is now between unendorsed National Party member Sharon Cadwallader and longstanding independent councillor and former mayor David Wright. Both are sitting on around 26 per cent of the vote (Cadwallader with 6017 votes and Wright with 6008).
The Greens’ Jeff Johnson is a distant third on 15.87 per cent (3,663), with sitting councillors Sue Meehan on 14.99 per cent (3,461) and Ben Smith on 3.75 per cent (865). Australian Seabird Rescue director and first-time candidate Keith Williams picked up a very respectable 13.3 per cent of the vote (3,069).
Johnson’s and Williams’s preferences will almost certainly flow to David Wright and will likely carry him over the line.
There is no public vote for mayor in Tweed Shire. Tweed mayors are elected on a vote of council.
The one light on the horizon for The Greens in Ballina is that they are currently sitting on 16.07 per cent in C Ward, behind only David Wright on 38.8 and Paul Worth on 26.42. If Wright gets up as mayor, on current figures for C Ward, Effie Ablett could score The Greens a second seat assuming she receives a reasonable flow of preferences.
In Ballina only David Wright has scored enough first-preference votes to be guaranteed a place on council but Sharon Cadwallader, newcomer Paul Worth, Sue Meehan and Jeff Johnson are all likely to get back in on preferences.
In Byron, The Greens have done predictably better, with Rose Wanchap and Duncan Dey looking set to pick up seats, along with Diane Woods and her number two Chris Cubis. First-timer Sol Ibrahim will also get in, pushing OSF’s Basil Cameron to preferences.
The resounding Country Labor vote in Lismore should see Glenys Ritchie, Isaac Smith and Ray Houston joining in Jenny Dowell’s celebrations, with an almost certain ticket into council. The Greens’ Vanessa Ekins and Nationals’ Neil Marks have also made it through but the split ticket sees all of the other candidates, including long-time councillors Meineke and Battista, resorting to preferences.