Four of the leading candidates in a field of 59 vying for the seven positions on Tweed Shire Council appear to have secured their seats after Saturday’s election, but the final makeup will not be known for days, if not weeks.
As of 8 o’clock this morning, 38,370 formal and a staggering 6,579 informal votes had been cast in the poll at which 60,670 voters were enrolled as at July 30.
Cr Warren Polglase’s group ticket was leading the first-preference count with 6,729 votes, or 17.54 per cent, followed by the Greens’ Cr Katie Milne with 6,103 votes (15.91 per cent), Labor’s Michael Armstrong with 4,811 votes (12.54 per cent) and mayor Barry Longland with 4,075 votes (10.62 per cent).
They were the only candidates so far to have received at least 10 per cent of the vote each and achieved, or close to achieving, the quota for a berth on council.
The remaining three seats are up for grabs with four candidates in the running and preferences will determine them.
Cr Dot Holdom, who received 1,871 votes (4.88 per cent), and Cr Phil Youngblutt with 2,931 votes (7.64 per cent) will have to rely on preferences for their re-election; so will first-time candidates Gary Bagnall, who received 2,616 or 6.82 per cent of the vote, and Carolyn Byrne with 2,660 (6.93 per cent).
Counting continues today but postal and pre-poll votes believed to be in their thousands are yet to be tallied.
Caretaker mayor Cr Longland said it could take weeks before the final outcome was known, as it did in the 2008 poll when the result for the final seat came right down to the wire and a handful of preferences.
‘It looks like the last three positions will take a while to sort out; there’s still a lot of postal and pre-poll votes to be counted so anything’s possible, ‘ he told Echonetdaily this morning.
Cr Longland said he expected three conservative candidates to be elected (Polglase, Byrne and Youngblutt) and a progressive majority of four with himself, Armstrong, Milne and Bagnall.
‘If this is the case it would be a very workable council, and I will nominate for mayor again.’
Labor’s Michael Armstrong, a newcomer to local government though not to politics, told Echonetdaily it was ‘extremely pleasing to see local’s supporting a Labor voice’ on Tweed Council.
The 35-year-old office manager in Richmond MP Justine Elliot’s Tweed Heads office, said it was not the first time the ALP had endorsed council candidates in the Tweed, and there had ‘always been strong support for Labor here’.
He said he hoped the seven-member council would work closely together, and with the community, to address local issues.