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Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

State of the count in Ballina

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Ballina from the air. Photo David Lowe.

Ballina local government residents won’t know the exact makeup of their new council until next week, when preferences are distributed, but the general shape is looking clearer.

At this stage, Sharon Cadwallader is a very firm favourite for mayor, with over 10,000 first preference votes (almost 38%). That means she is set to be joined on council by at least one of her team members, likely Rod Bruem, who is also a Paradise FM announcer. Both these candidates ran as independents, despite their previous ties to the National Party.

Independent Councillor Jeff Johnson (formerly a Green) also polled very well in the mayoral race, with over 24% of first preference votes, but is unlikely to have the numbers to challenge Cr Cadwallader for mayor at this stage.

The ward system in Ballina means there are three mini-elections, not just one, with each ward electing three councillors (total council size is ten, including the mayor, who has a casting vote when decisions are tied).

Keith Williams

Cr Keith Williams. Photo David Lowe.

With three of the most high profile candidates in the same ward, the ALP’s Keith Williams (and outgoing Chair of Rous County Council) is trailing both in the council and mayor vote (he got over 15% first preference votes in that poll).

With just over half a quota at this stage in Ward B, Cr Williams appears likely to lose his position on council entirely unless Jeff Johnson can overhaul Sharon Cadwallader in that ward, which seems highly unlikely at this stage.

Cr Jeff Johnson very nearly has the numbers to return to Ward B as a councillor without preferences, and preferences will determine other possible councillors including Greens newcomer Kiri Dicker (over 16% of first preference votes) and the Cadwallader Team’s Eva Ramsey (4.09% first preferences).

In Ward A, no one currently has a quota to be elected on first preferences, but current councillors Phil Meehan and Steve McCarthy are polling best after Rod Bruem, each with around two thirds of a quota.

In Ward C, Cr Eoin Johnston has more than one and a half quotas in his own right, having campaigned on the water issue around Alstonville, and the Greens’ Simon Chate gained almost an entire quota in his first tilt at council, with over 21% of first preference votes. Preferences will determine the spoils among the five candidates there.

Wasted votes

Informal votes for mayor in Ballina were low (under 4%), and between 6-10% across the three wards in votes for council.

The Australian Electoral Commission will announce mayors across the state on Monday next week, and councillors on Wednesday.

Due to COVID impacts in recent years, this term of local government will be short, only two and a half years, so councillors will not have long to deliver on their promises (or learn the ropes in the case of new councillors) before the next election rolls around.

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  1. The ward system leaves a lot to be desired. Conservatives attempted to foist that system on Byron Shire many moons ago but we successfully defeated it in a referendum.
    And how disappointing it would be to see someone of Cr Keith Williams calibre miss out on representing the people of Ballina and surrounds. He has proven to be a voice of sanity and that would make it ironic that he should fall victim of a fear campaign conducted by the ‘independent’ conservatives … more deception … once a Nat, always a Nat.
    Perhaps it will be a good thing this term of Councils we be a short one. We may need ‘corrections’ all to soon in all local Councils on the far North Coast.

  2. This Ballina LGE. Was a serious wake-up call for everyone, it clearly demonstrates the depths the National Party is prepared to sink to in order to win elections. The Lismore LGE. was a mirror image of Ballina, where an incredibly well financed, resourced, organized and staffed campaign was conducted. Kevin Hogan was even seen directing voters on how to vote wearing an “Independent” T shirt. Genuine Independents just cannot afford that much extensive TV and radio messaging and full-page print advertising. Hopefully this exercise in monumental deceit by the Nationals may come back to bite them, because all they have done is to totally trash the independent brand and insult every fair-minded voter who was deceived by the Nationals fraudulent trickery.

  3. It will be a great day if the watermelon Green, Independent and now Labor, or is it Country Labor candidate Williams is not returned to Council – Woohoo! It appears that sanity has prevailed and the residents of Ballina LGA have voted for water security. Build the dam, it will fill.

  4. Just clarifying – the poll was conducted by the NSW Electoral Commission (not the Australian Electoral Office) they are different organizations.


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