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Byron Shire
January 21, 2022

Lismore’s new mayor ‘looking forward to working on a united, productive council’

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New mayor Steve Krieg spent much of the day at the Goonellabah Community Centre polling booth. Photo Tree Faerie.

The December 4 LGA election was held on a hot and humid summer’s day in Lismore, a true representation of why it’s sometimes called ‘the wok’, and as the steam and pressure built throughout that day, voters and candidates were relieved when the voting booth closed at 6pm, just before a storm crashed across the LGA – then the year’s most photographed rainbow manifested itself before the counting began.

On Sunday morning the Lismore LGA awoke to devastation across the shire with branches and trees strewn across the entire area. They also awoke with a new mayor.

The NSW Electoral Commission’s virtual tally room kept the Lismore community glued to their screens until the close of counting on Saturday, a rest day Sunday will see the count begin again this morning – but the clear winner with 51.86 per cent of the vote so far is new candidate Steve Krieg with 9,099 votes.

The tally of the rest of the mayoral candidates so far is, Vanessa Ekins for the Greens with 2,876 votes (16.39 per cent), Elly Bird for Our Sustainable Future with 2,384 votes (13.59 per cent), Darlene Cook for Labor with 1,662 votes (9.47 per cent), Big Rob with 887 votes (5.05 per cent) and Patrick Healey with 639 votes (3.64 per cent).

Cautiously optimistic

Steve Krieg and some of his supporters at the Goonellabah Community Centre. Photo Facebook.

Mr Krieg said his team was cautiously optimistic at the booths. ‘It was great to meet so many wonderful people, regardless of who they voted for,’ he said on Sunday morning. ‘There was a lot of positive feedback, but until the votes are counted, nothing is certain. Nothing was expected. We were prepared to listen to the voice of the people, whatever the outcome.’

Krieg said he and his team had a quiet gathering at the Lismore Heights Bowling Club on Saturday night. With enough votes so far to bring four of his team on to Council, Krieg said he was relieved the day was over. ‘I think relief is the right word. Everyone running for local government puts in a huge personal effort, and it’s nice to just stop and reflect for a day.’

Most of the candidates took to social media on Sunday to congratulate the new mayor.

Elly Bird braved the heat and humidity at St Paul’s in the Lismore CBD, the centre of ‘the wok’. Photo Tree Faerie.

Big challenges ahead

Elly Bird said she wanted to publicly congratulate Steve Krieg and the other members of his team who will be joining Council. ‘We have some big challenges ahead of us in the coming term and I am looking forward to working with the new Council to address them.

‘Being a Councillor is one of the most rewarding and challenging things a person can do for their community and after the delay to the election, it is good that Lismore has a full contingent of Councillors again to share the workload.

‘We have some careful work underway already and it is very important that we keep that work going.

‘My deepest thanks and appreciation to my hard-working and amazing team, to our incredible volunteers, and to all the people who voted for us.

‘I also wish the outgoing Councillors all the best and thank them for their service. Now that the election season is over and we are going back to the regular news cycle I’d also like to take the opportunity to wish all The Echo readers and the community of the Northern Rivers a restful and rejuvenating holiday season and all the best for the coming year.’

With 2021 election ban on printed materials, Darlene Cook covered a lot of space explaining how to vote. Photo Tree Faerie.

An offer of help

Darlene Cook said she has personally congratulated Mr Krieg and had offered to help him as he learns his new role. ‘He and his team will find that Council is a bit different from running one’s own business and I hope they will take the opportunity to work collaboratively with those of us with some previous experience of the job,’ she said on Sunday.

I am very proud of the campaign my team ran for this election. We worked hard to get our message out to the community and I thank them all for their help, faith and support. On early counting it looks like I will be re-elected and I have hopes that Kevin Bell will also be elected at the final distribution. However, we had a community that wanted change, wanted difference for the future, and they voted accordingly.

We now wait for the final count of primary votes for councillors to be completed and then once postal voting closes December 17, the distribution of preferences by computer will see the final makeup of the 10 councillors around December 21.

‘During this past term of council, and during this campaign, I sent the message loud and clear that I, and Labor, work for the benefit of all the community, not one sector of it. That will continue to be my role for the next term of council – representing and being a voice for all of Lismore: our city and our villages, our farmers, our homeless, our businesses and our unemployed.’

Vanessa Ekins always smiling at Goonellabah. Photo Tree Faerie.

An unexpected joy

Outgoing Mayor Vanessa Ekins thanked every for their support and encouragement during 2021. ’It has been a real honour to serve as Mayor of Lismore and an unexpected joy.

‘I am particularly proud of the decisions the Council made to hand back land to the Widjabul Wiabal Traditional Custodians, build affordable housing, close the loop on waste, investigate catchment-wide approaches to flood mitigation and focus on Council’s financial sustainability.

‘I look forward to working with the new Council to progress these strategies over the next three years.

‘And sincere thanks to the Councillors who worked hard to represent our community and plan for the future of this place we love.’

Preparing for a new role

Patrick Healey also sweltered at St Paul’s, his hat good protection from the sun at least. Photo Tree Faerie.

The new Mayor said he and his family have already made many small changes in preparation for the extra time he will need to dedicate to his new position. ‘I am blessed to have an amazing wife and family, and the best staff that anyone could hope for, so I am confident that we will be able to manage the extra workload.’

Mr Krieg said he wanted to publicly thank and acknowledge the current mayor, Vanessa Ekins, and councillors Bird, Casson, Guise, Cook, Marks, Moorhouse and Lloyd for their service to the community. ‘Anybody that puts their hand up for public office is to be commended, and I thank them for their service.

‘For those returning, I am looking forward to working on a united, productive council over the next three years. We are going to work as hard as possible to provide the level of service the people of our LGA deserve.’

Updated result for Councillor positions:

C Group Votes with a quota ratio of 5.55 which will see Independents Mayor Krieg and Peter Colby, Jeri Hall and Andrew Gordon and possibly Electra Jensen on Council.

D Group Votes with a quota of 1.67 which will see Greens Vanessa Ekins return and possibly Adam Guise.

A Group Votes with a quota of 1.35 will see Darlene Cook return and possibly Kevin Bell.

E Group Votes with a 1.1 quoate will see Elly Bird also return to Council

Then there are those to yet make a quota:

B Group Independent Big Rob 0.73
G Group Independent Patrick Healey with 0.33
F Group Alison Waters on a quota of 0.25

After the storm lightning cuts through the most photographed rainbow on the Far North Coast this year. Photo Tree Faerie.

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  1. So Lismore will have a National Party Council. Note the pic of one Kevin Hogan supporting.
    They certainly won’t be able to ‘pork barrel’ like Kevin. Council’s just don’t have the funds to butter up sections of the community.
    Steve will have to keep his team in line; it is pleasing to hear him say he wants to work co-operatively with the other Councillors. Hopefully, not just his Nationals team.
    The ladies from the Greens, Labor and Sustainable Futures are renowned for their hard work; they will set the standard.

  2. It’s probably the only representation the Nats will have after the next Fed Election when the strangely named Coal-ition will be decimated.

  3. I have to say the “come to the heart” campaign slogan I always found so true with Lismore. This is a great community with so much love and support to give, but this is a sickening result for Lismore and I fear that the slogan will now decline along with many a local, be that social enterprise, or species of flora & or fauna. However in reality the Council might just go broke with legal challenges. Anyway I guess I will now have to move into the Byron Shire, fortunately it’s not far away for me, but it will certainly cost a lot more.


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