The lead candidate for Ballina Mayor has objected to suggestions she could be influenced by party politics.
Independent incumbent Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader looked very likely on Tuesday morning to become Ballina’s next mayor, having received more than 38% of first preference votes counted.
There were still around seven thousand ballots to be counted in the shire, technically giving three of the other four candidates a chance at catching up to or taking over Cr Cadwallader’s position.
But if current percentages stayed the same, voter preferences would need to be taken into account.
Cr Cadwallader likely to win Ballina Mayor on preferences
Former Greens-turned independent Cr Jeff Johnson was running second in the mayoral race at slightly less than 25% of first preferences and would likely be hoping to get preferences from those who voted for Labor candidate Keith Williams.
Cr Williams had just over 15% of first preferences.
But Cr Cadwallader had suggested on her how-to-vote cards that people preference Cr Eoin Johnston second and given he had achieved more than 13% of first preferences, the only woman running for Ballina Mayor looked almost certain to end up with more than 50% of the vote.
The only plausible disruption would be if voters declined to preference or if the way they preferenced was out of step with Cr Cadwallader’s suggestions.
Party? What party? Conservative council candidates determined to keep party politics off the agenda
Most political parties publicly endorsed local government candidates in NSW, including the Liberals, Labor, The Greens and The Animal Justice Party, although The Sydney Morning Herald reported several Liberals who failed to win party endorsement and so ran as independents.
But The Nationals refused to openly endorse any local government candidates, leaving many to simply describe themselves as conservative and to add that party politics had no place in local government.
Cr Alan Hunter in the Byron Shire was an example.
Readers of The Echo have become increasingly impatient with council candidates who have past or present links to political parties but are either slow to disclose them, or insist they have no bearing on their status as independents.
Former Nationals member looks forward to working with regional Greens and Labor elected reps
Last week The Echo ran an article speculating on whether an era of true non-partisanship in the Ballina Shire would be over, given past links of the top two mayoral candidates to political parties.
Cr Cadwallader was a former Nationals member, having served as Chair of The Nationals’ Women’s Council and running in a pre-selection for the party’s Ballina state parliamentary seat candidate in 2014.
But Cr Cadwallader objected to the suggestion she could be anything but independent.
‘As the frontrunner in the counting, I wanted to emphasise as I did throughout the campaign that my aim as mayor would be to continue the tradition of keeping politics out of the council and putting locals first,’ Cr Cadwallader wrote to The Echo.
‘I am not a member of any political party, neither are any members of my team in contention for election and we received no support from the Nationals or any other party,’ Cr Cadwallader wrote.
‘We’ve received great encouragement and best wishes from people on all sides of politics.’
Cr Cadwallader said she especially looked forward to working with [The Greens] state Member for Ballina Tamara Smith, [Country Labor] federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliott and [The Nationals] federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan.