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Byron Shire
January 21, 2022

Independents clear winners for Byron LGA elections

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Sama Balson, Cr Michael Lyon, Peter Westheimer, Jeannette Martin. Photo supplied

While the Greens and Labor saw declines in their first preference votes, it was the independents who appear to have won the majority of public support at Saturday’s Council election.

Mayoral results

Independent candidate Michael Lyon looks to have secured enough votes to be elected mayor, with 23.67 per cent of the votes counted on Monday. While further votes are to be tallied and preferences distributed in the coming days, his lead should be enough to secure the top spot. Cr Lyon served the previous Council term, and was originally elected on the Greens ticket before quitting the party to become independent in the last term. He was voted interim mayor after the resignation of the previous Greens mayor, Simon Richardson earlier this year.  

Mark Swivel. Photo supplied

Independent Labor leaning candidate, Mark Swivel, came second in the mayoral race, with 18.30 per cent of the vote counted on Monday. Independent left leaning councillor, Cate Coorey, gained 14.73 per cent, followed by the Greens (Duncan Dey) at 14.59 per cent. 

Labor’s Asren Pugh gained 12.07 per cent of the vote. Conservative independent councillor, Alan Hunter, secured 6.55 per cent, while independent candidate, Bruce Clarke, secured 5.40 per cent. At the tail end, John Anderson received 3.26 per cent of the vote (372 votes) and Chris McIlrath 1.44 per cent of the vote (164 votes).

According to the NSW Electoral Commission, the total number of Byron Shire electors was 25,414 (residential and non-residential). 

As of Monday. 9,530 formal votes were counted in Byron Shire, with 973 informal/other votes also tallied. 

Councillor results 

While the councillor make-up is still to be determined (further votes are to be tallied and preferences distributed), it is likely that Cr Lyon will be joined by his running mates, Sama Balson (from Women’s Collective) and former councillor Peter Westheimer.

Cr Lyon secured 17.39 per cent of the councillor vote.

Next was the Greens, led by Duncan Dey, and they secured 1,701, or 17.85 per cent of first preference votes. That result is down over 30 per cent from the previous election. Similarly, Labor’s Asren Pugh won 10.77 per cent of the vote, which is less than the party polled at the 2016 election.   

Independent newcomer candidate Mark Swivel gained 13.29 per cent, while independent councillor Cate Coorey gained 10.44 per cent of the vote. 

Long serving conservative councillor, Alan Hunter (independent), secured 5.32 per cent of the vote.  

Independent newcomer candidate, Bruce Clarke, secured 4.29 per cent of the vote, while John Anderson gained 2.28 per cent. 

As counting continues, it is likely that the new Council (eight seats plus the mayor) will include Cr Lyon and perhaps two from his ticket, former councillor Duncan Dey and current Cr Sarah Ndiaye (Both Greens), Mark Swivel, Cr Cate Coorey and Asren Pugh. It’s unclear, and unlikely, that Cr Alan Hunter and Bruce Clarke will be elected to Council.

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  1. The Greens imploded. They have probably set a record for the largest swing against a party in Australian Electoral history.

    The great news is that Mark Swivel and Asren Pugh don’t want any more time wasted with railway folly and are promoting getting on with the Rail Trail. Michael Lyon has indicated his team would give the dual use backers twelve months to come up with the funding before joining Mark and Asren to promote the trail.

    That leaves the two Greens and Cate Coorey persisting with the Dual Use pipe dream.

    With forty percent of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail already funded and construction about to begin, funding for the Byron section would be a mere formality.

  2. The Byron Greens scored one of the finest ‘own goals ‘ in our political History , with their antics over their pre-selections in this Election .

    Will The Dark Greens learn anything from this drubbing .


    They are too fixed in their negative ways .

  3. Byron will at least have a ‘progressive’ Council, unlike Lismore.
    There is a good sprinkling of talent there, too.
    Fast Bucks seems to have lost currency!

  4. The Lismore result is shaping as a backward step to the right wing of the Nats who like the wolf in sheep’s clothing have pulled the wool over the eye’s of the ill informed. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  5. The Greens implode while John 2.28% Anderson battles with Chris McIlwraith to run dead last. The Echo editorial team need to do some soul searching and listen to the people, more than their own thought bubbles.

  6. Wasn’t it amazing to see all the support Greens MP Tamara Smith gave to the Ballina and Byron Greens candidates? Oh wait, I got that wrong. There was zero. She couldn’t even be bothered turning up for post-election drinks to thank volunteers. Hopefully they will remember and repay in kind come State elections.


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