Five new faces make up the new nine-seat Byron Shire Council for the next four years, with a much slimmer majority for the progressive-Green bloc which previously dominated.
The new council is Simon Richardson (mayor), Diane Woods, Rose Wanchap, Sol Ibrahim, Chris Cubis, Duncan Dey, Basil Cameron, Paul Spooner and Alan Hunter.
Cr Richardson was confirmed mayor earlier this week after beating off his conservative rival Diane Woods with 7,090 votes against 6,232 after preferences were distributed.
The new faces on council are real-estate agent Rose Wanchap, who was second on Cr Richardson’s Greens ticket, business manager Sol Ibrahim, businessman Chris Cubis (the No 2 on Cr Woods’ ticket), Byron Bay Community Centre manager Paul Spooner (Independent) and Myocum farmer Alan Hunter.
One ‘recycled’ face is that of Duncan Dey, who was No 3 on Cr Richardson’s Greens ticket and served as a councillor before 2008.
Mr Hunter, who ran as the National Party’s Richmond candidate in the last federal election, was taken to court by Byron Shire Council in February over unauthorised development on his property and found guilty.
Mayor Richardson has welcomed the result.
I am honoured to have been elected by the residents of Byron Shire to be the mayor for the next four years,’ he said this morning.
‘We have a great new team, with Rose Wanchap and Duncan Dey supporting me to help maintain this shire as a leader in promoting appropriate development, environmental sustainability and a vibrant and strong community.
‘Over the next four years, we aim to work productively with all councilors and staff and consult widely with the community. We are confident about meeting the challenges ahead and thank the residents of the shire for supporting us,’ mayor Richardson said.
Outgoing Greens mayor, Jan Barham added, ‘I am encouraged the community has placed its trust in the Greens again for the mayoralty with a strong Green team’.
She also thanked former Greens councillors Richard Staples and Tom Tabart ‘for the years of service and commitment to the community’.
Outgoing councillor Tabart, who observed the preference distribution event, said the result meant the Greens-progressives bloc had a majority of one, but mayor Richardson also had the casting vote if the vote was tied.
The conservative bloc is led by Cr Woods and includes councillors-elect Ibrahim, Cubis and Hunter, with Cr Basil Cameron (Our Sustainable Future), Mr Spooner (Real Independents) seen as part of the progressive bloc.
Preference distribution for the election was finalised yesterday in only a matter of minutes in the ‘live event’ at Mullumbimby Civic Centre, with new computing technology used for the first time in the region by NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC).
A push of a button is all it took to sort out the complicated preference distribution for the final positions to be determined.
Byron Shire returning officer Ian Smith executed the computer number-crunching once word was received from the NSWEC in Sydney and the results flashed up on a screen for the 20 or so members of the public and candidates attending to watch live.
Mr Smith said the use of the technology, which does away with the need for scrutineers, was a first for the region and a source of fascination for media and public observers.
‘After a slight delay at the beginning, it took 25 rounds of preference distribution for the last three candidates to obtain quota. The process took no more than two minutes,’ he told Echonetdaily.
Mr Smith praised the dozen or so skilled data-entry operators in the hall feeding the count into the Sydney-linked computer, for completing the task in well under a week.
Photo: All smiles…new Byron Shire Councillors (L to R) Rose Wanchap, Paul Spooner, Sol Ibrahim, Chris Cubis, Diane Woods and Alan Hunter. Also elected but not present at yesterday’s announcement at Mullumbimby Civic Centre were mayor Simon Richardson, Our Sustainable Future’s Basil Cameron and The Greens’ Duncan Dey. Photo Jade Gale