Outgoing Ballina mayor David Wright says that even though the numbers look to be going his way, he’s not going to claim victory until the announcement by the NSW Electoral Commission, expected later today.
It’s been a tough term, attempting to balance the desires of shire residents for protection from shark attacks against those of many surfers not to be fenced in, but Cr Wright is nevertheless hoping for a second term.
While he looks like getting over the line with Greens’ support, the three other most popular candidates – Jeff Johnson, Sharon Cadwallader and Keith Williams – are swapping preferences in an arrangement that could see more than 7,000 votes change hands.
‘They’ve just put the postals up, that was the last of the votes, and I’m leading by about 2,800 at the moment,’ Cr Wright told Echonetdaily.
‘But I’ve been in council long enough never to gloat or say anything before you actually know the decision.’
‘I think [the Electoral commission] know what the preferences are, I think they’ve been tallying those. It’s now just a matter of putting the numbers in,’ he said.
Assuming he is re-elected, the results of A and B Wards will also be known later today but C Ward may take longer as his preferences would need to be reallocated.
This juggle would see Ben Smith returned and Greens candidate Gail Mensinga get over the line in a first for that ward.
Greens candidate in B Ward, Nathan Cooper, acknowledges he’s unlikely to get up.
‘It was always going to be a tough race against three incumbent candidates,’ he told Echonetdaily, with one of them [Jeff Johnson] a popular progressive.
Cr Johnson split with the Greens after failing to be preselected for the seat of Ballina last year but Mr Cooper said it was ‘nothing like’ the controversial defection of Byron Greens candidate Rose Wanchap.
‘He’s still very progressive, he’s popular and very active on council, so it’s understandable people would vote for him.’
Questioned on whether he thought the Ballina voters were more conservative that their Byron counterparts, Mr Cooper said ‘there’s just a different way of doing things here.’
‘The Greens may not have got up as many candidates as we did in Byron but If you add Jeff’s and my votes together in B Ward, it’s basically 45 per cent “greenish”,’ he said.
‘And talking to the candidates around the hustings there’s a lot of concern from most of them about environmental issues, especially the health of the river,’ he said.
‘It’s a very different community [to Byron] but council is becoming more progressive,’ he said.