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Byron Shire
January 21, 2022

Vote counting still underway for Tweed Shire Council elections

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Voting day at Seagulls on Saturday 4 December. Photo Aslan Shand

Initial results for the Tweed Shire Council elections have 38,346 votes of the potential 66,406 voters having been counted, and will likely see former Liberal councillor, James Owen, back on council. Mr Owen has taken out the highest number of votes so far, with 23.39 per cent of the vote (1.87 quotas). Most likely, this will also see the second on the ticket Rhiannon Brinsmead elected to Council.

Tweed Shire councillor James Owen (Liberal). Photo supplied.

‘I am both humbled and overwhelmed by the early election results. I never expected numbers like this,’ Mr Owen told The Echo.

‘Consistent feedback given to me by residents at the pre-poll booths over the last few weeks was that through the entire COVID-19 pandemic I showed up, continued to show up, and didn’t play politics.’

Cr Chris Cherry.

Independent and current Mayor, Chris Cherry, is currently polling in second position, with 13.18 per cent of the vote (1.05 quota) followed by Labor’s Reece Byrnes on 10.84 per cent (0.84 quota), Independent Meredith Dennis is at 10.08 per cent (0.81 quota) and Dr Nola Firth who took the reins from Katie Milne to head The Greens is at 9.73 per cent (0.78 quota) of the vote so far.

Councillor Warren Polglase OAM, recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours. Photo supplied.

This election has seen a first preference drop for long time Conservative councillor Warren Polglase who currently has 8.09 per cent of the vote (0.65 quota) while his fellow Conservative councillor Pryce Allsop is at 7.13 per cent of the vote (0.57 quota).

This is followed by Independent Indigenous candidate Letita Kelly at 5.31 per cent (0.42 quota) of the vote.

Letitia Kelly is heading the Women Who Lead ticket in the Tweed Shire Council elections.

The final make up of the council will come down to preferences which could take at least another week to finalise.

Under the NSW Electoral Commission’s COVID-safe plan, postal voting was expanded for this election with additional time provided for completed postal votes to be returned. More than 290,000 people across NSW applied to the NSWEC for a postal vote.

Once the new council convenes early next year they will elect a new Mayor for two years and a new Deputy Mayor for 12 months.

‘Following the declaration of the poll, an extraordinary meeting will be held on Tuesday 11 January 2022 for Councillors to take the oath or affirmation of office and to elect the Mayor and Deputy Mayor,’ said a Tweed Shire Council spokesperson.

‘It is too early to be definitive about the outcome but it does look as if the far-right conservatives will not be holding sway in the next Council,’ Dr Firth told The Echo.

Dr Nola Firth is heading The Greens ticket for the Tweed Shire Council elections.

‘So I want to thank all those who voted for progressive Council and especially those who voted for The Greens. I am very hopeful of holding a seat at the next Council and working to put in place our policies of fast climate change action and greater protection of our internationally significant environment.’

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  1. James Owen spent a truck load of cash promoting himself and the punters swallowed it hook line and sinker!
    True independents can not match the spending of a major party backed candidate.

  2. TSC elections votes so far prove a couple of things, genuine community independents Meredith Dennis and Letitia Kelly are respected and appreciated wildly without backing of big parties or being previous councillors, that is wonderful to see, and a huge feat of epic proportions. The votes also reveal the rise of the genuine independents is real. Voting also seems to suggest big party marketing without substance continues to influence.

  3. Does anyone have any idea of how much funding was used to bankroll the Owens block campaign and where all that money came from? It must be a record for local Govt. Why would anyone spend so much money, just to sit in council?

    • Yes, I objected to the full page wrap-arounds on the Tweed Valley Weekly, which I ripped off straight away! Not to mention the full or half page ads as well.
      Huge cost. Out of proportion advertising. There should be equal advertising space allocated for each candidate.

  4. How utterly ridiculous for Dr Firth to refer to her opponents as “far-right”. It reflects far more on her extreme position in the political spectrum than on the nature of the other candidates. She has clearly chosen to get straight into a confrontational attitude so it doesn’t seem we will have a collaborative council. Thankfully she won’t be being joined by the two recently resigned Greens masquerading as independents, Fenelon and Kelly.

    Dr Firth should take note that more than one in four voters put James Owen’s Liberal team as their first preference. They easily out-polled the Green or green-tinged Firth, Fenelon and Kelly combined, with enough votes to elect not only James Owen but Rhiannon Brinsmead too.

    Meredith Dennis will almost certainly reach a quota on preferences firstly from Fenelon and then Kelly. The ABC election site shows Warren Polglase continuing to gain and now almost level with Firth. After the distribution of preferences, Polglase will be far ahead and almost certainly reach a quota, leaving Firth to inherit the last position at the table, most likely as the only elected candidate without a quota because Kelly didn’t preference her at all. It is a sobering thought for a party who, with Katie Milne, had topped the 2016 poll and carried Cherry in on preferences.

    It s notable that Kelly and Firth did not exchange even their lowest preference, despite having recently been colleagues in The Greens. Does this suggest a simmering factional conflict like the Greens in Byron Shire where they have probably set a record for the largest swing ever recorded against a party in Australian electoral history?

  5. Great to see Meredith polling so we’ll. A highly principled hard working local.
    Hopefully the Independents are true to their principles & control the excesses of the Socialist no jobs Greens.

  6. Regarding election advertising, has anyone noticed the constant full page ads submitted by the Federal Member, Justine Elliot in all sorts of media, now that is out of proportion advertising, such a waste of taxpayer money !


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