As a result of voting and counting errors, the minority conservatives on Lismore City Council nearly managed to grab three of five coveted paid positions at Tuesday night’s extraordinary general meeting.
They still, through no fault of their own, stole two of them.
The first meeting of every new council is devoted to electing councillors to various positions on committees and external bodies. The most sought after are always to the three county councils because they come with a paid allowance.
Before the advent of direct mayoral elections, councillors used to trade their mayoral vote for a spot on one of these county councils. These days the dominant bloc normally divvy them up between themselves. The first, single position, on Far North Coast County Council (weeds) went according to plan with Labor Cr Houston elected with a majority of six (out of 11).
The second vote, for Richmond River County Council (floods), was preferential. It was supposed to award the two positions to Country Labor councillors Smith and Richie but newcomer Richie made a mistake by first voting for herself and then for Cr Meineke without preferencing Smith at all. The upshot result was Meineke elected first and then, after a draw from the Council chamber pot, Cr Marks beating Smith for the second.
The third ballot, for the most important Rous County Council (water), saw Greens Cr Ekins as ordained, winning the first spot, but somehow ex-Liberal Cr Battista took the second, instead of the intended Cr Clough.
This time it was the returning officer’s misunderstanding of the counting procedure. It’s meant to be a ‘winner-takes-all’ arrangement with all of the first elected candidate’s second preferences counting as ones for his mate. After a recount Clough was, belatedly, elected to Rous leaving Battista wondering, along with just about everyone else in the chamber, what happened.