Counting in the Tweed Shire Council election continued yesterday with only a slight increase in the number of votes recorded, not enough to change the likely outcome for the seven councillor positions.
Thousands of pre-poll and postal votes are yet to be counted and the distribution of preferences is set to determine the final three spots. The final makeup may not be known for weeks.
A total of 47,152 votes, 6,772 of which were informal, had been counted as of 10am this morning, according to the NSW Electoral Commission website. A total of 60,670 voters were enrolled as at the end of July
At this stage, veteran Cr Warren Polglase (7,123 first-preference votes or 17.64 per cent of the total), Greens Cr Katie Milne (6,415, 15.89 per cent), Labor’s Michael Armstrong (5,056, 12.52 per cent), and mayor Barry Longland (4,330,10.72 per cent), are assured of filling four of the seats.
Favoured to take the other three seats are Cr Phil Youngblutt (3,102, 7.68 per cent), and first-time candidates Carolyn Byrne (2,782, 6.89 per cent) and Gary Bagnall (2,722, 6.74 per cent), who will all benefit from preferences from candidates eliminated in the count before them.
Cr Dot Holdom (1,969, 4.88 per cent), who did not allocate preferences, is fighting to retain her seat on council.
Of the remaining above-the-line candidates, Group A led by Tweed Heads high-school teacher Kaye Sharples was the standout performer for a novice, attracting 1,832 votes at the latest count, or 4.54 per cent of the total.
Mrs Sharples, like Cr Holdom, was unaligned to the two blocs of five groups each representing the progressive (Longland, Milne, Armstrong, Bagnall, Roberts) and conservative (Polglase, Youngblutt, Byrne, Henry, Campbell) ends of politics.
Her husband and campaign manager Terry, an accountant, who has been embroiled in legal battles with Tweed Shire Council over a controversial seven-year-rates plan just ended, was over the moon with the result.
Mr Sharples, a one-time political player himself, told Echonetdaily his wife’s popularity shone through in the vote for her group of first-time candidates who all live in the same street (Charles Street) in Tweed Heads.
‘It was brilliant we did this with not one bit of help and little money. Who would have thought Kaye, someone so unknown, could get so many votes? She was popular all right,’ Mr Sharples said.
‘It would be icing on the cake if she beat Dot Holdom in the number of votes.
‘We had no volunteers to help us man the booths or anything, just us. We handed out a pre-poll every day. We printed 10,000 how-to-vote cards but couldn’t distribute them as we had no one to help, so we’re stuck with half of them.
‘At least we had a go, we had a say, but this community ought to be whipped. They had the best possible, decent conciliatory candidates ever and yet voted in that tired old Phil Youngblutt, who is so far past being in public office, he should never have got a vote.’