THE race for mayor of Eurobodalla Shire Council was beginning to finalise this morning as preferences were being distributed.
Narooma councillor Lindsay Brown looks to have claimed the position based on information coming from the scrutineers.
Mr Brown knew late last night emailing supporters that the numbers were coming together stating the mayoral count had been finalized and he had been declared as mayor, defeating ERA Moruya candidate Liz Innes by 108 preferential votes.
The Narooma News was informed this morning that just before the distribution of final preferences that Liz Innes was leading Lindsay Brown 3481 to 3080 on preferential votes with Graham Scobie trailing 2781.
But after the final distribution including from outgoing mayor Fergus Thomson, Lindsay Brown was claiming victory.
Mr Brown was currently at the Eurobodalla Shire Council chambers in Moruya confirming the vote, but the Narooma News planned on catching up with him on home turf later this week.
The Australian Electoral Commission website had not yet been updated with the latest preference counts.
Meanwhile back on Monday, the fight was on between Graham Scobie and Fergus Thomson after first preference votes were counted, but that changed yesterday as other preferences were distributed.
At the time of going to press on Tuesday afternoon, returning officer Susan Flannery said they were about half way through distributing the remaining preferences.
At 3pm yesterday, seven candidates were out of the race and the counters were working through the “gradual process of elimination,” Ms Flannery said.
After the first preferences were counted, Graham Scobie was leading with 10.59 per cent of votes, closely followed by Fergus Thomson with 10.31 per cent.
Coming in third was Lindsay Brown with 9.4 per cent and Rob Pollock with 7.63 per cent.
After hearing of how the preferences were being distributed, Mr Pollock said the contest came down to Lindsay Brown, Fergus Thomson and himself.
“It’s a very, very tight contest,” he said. “I think it’ll be very close. You just don’t know who’s going to get eliminated.”
He wasn’t confident when speaking to the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner, but said he would be waiting near the phone for the announcement.
“I was very relaxed up until a few hours ago, now that I can see I am in the mix. You wouldn’t be natural if you weren’t.”
Meanwhile, Batemans Bay and Moruya Eurobodalla Ratepayer Action groups were leading the battle for councillor late yesterday afternoon, with 16.77 per cent of group votes for the Moruya group and 15.08 per cent for the Batemans Bay group.
Eurobodalla First group received 12.28 per cent of group votes, while the Greens recorded 10.23 per cent, as of yesterday afternoon.
ERA confident of three seats
The lead candidate on the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association (ERA) Narooma ticket Neil Burnside said he was extremely pleased with the result.
“We got 40 per cent of the first preference vote with is unprecedented for a new party,” Mr Burnside said.
The ERA also received 7,600 mayor votes across all of their candidates but Mr Burnside was not confident of the party attaining the position of mayor because of the preference distribution.
He was however confident the ERA would get up three, possibly four candidates, reflecting that people had voted for change on council.
Votes would be flowing between ERA candidates that the fact that 60 per cent voted above the line would mean that the ERA “B” ticket and himself would pick up votes from the party’s Moruya and Batemans Bay ticket.
Narooma candidates reflect
Councillor Lindsay Brown of Narooma said as of about 3pm yesterday about 10 of the mayoral candidates had been eliminated leaving the final 11, but even so he was not willing to make the call on who would be mayor.
Mr Brown was optimistic and hopeful that he received enough votes to retain his seat on council.
“I am extremely proud of the campaign we ran and the votes I achieved, especially considering the number of candidates and the quality of the campaigns everyone ran,” Mr Brown said.
“I am also really proud of the support I received across the shire, which shows that people have recognised the effort I have put in over the last four years and people have seen me working hard.”
He said he was looking forward to another four years and working on the issues he identified in his campaign.
Also running as an independent but without the benefit of a ticket was fellow Narooma candidate Phil Constable, who said one lesson he learned was it would have been better to run as a grouped candidate on a ticket as the ungrouped, independent candidates were left languishing at the end of the ballot paper.
“I think this election would make a really good academic case study,” Mr Constable said.
But even so, he has written a letter to the editor thanking all his supporters and those who voted for him.
Also reflecting on the result was fellow independent candidate Orit Karney Winters, who led a ticket of all women.
Ms Karney Winters said even if she did not get a seat on council she would continue to remain engaged with the community and work on the issues the voters raised with her during the campaign.
“I was hoping to see change on council and whoever gets in I wish them luck and hope that they work for the community,” she said.
She thanked all the business and community members that supported her during her campaign.
“It makes me wonderful that so many people care.”
Bega Valley Shire Council by the numbers
A CHANGING of the guard at the Bega Valley Shire Council looks to be on the cards.
At the conclusion of the initial count of first preference votes on Monday after Saturday’s election, candidate Tony Allen was the clear leader and likely to retake his seat the council table.
However, in second place was council newcomer and Pambula Hospital campaigner Sharon Tapscott.
While no place is finalised until later this week, other candidates looking to be in the running for the nine seats available include recent councillors Michael Britten, Russell Fitzpatrick, Keith Hughes and Liz Seckold, and newcomers Ann Mawhinney, David Jesson and Kristy McBain.
However, nothing is certain until preferences are allocated – the process of which began yesterday and will likely take a couple of days to complete.
Based on the election’s first preference votes, Mr Allen and Ms Tapscott were the only two candidates to reach the progressive quota after Saturday’s count.
At the completion of the initial first preference count – about 11.30pm Saturday - Mr Allen had 2764 votes and Ms Tapscott 2456, with a progressive quota of 1720.
However, the final quota, and therefore the number of votes needed for a candidate to attain a seat on the Bega Valley Shire Council will not be known until the total number of formal votes is known.
This needs to take into account postal votes, receipt of which only closed at 6pm Monday night.
First preference votes for other candidates were Michael Britten (1540), Russell Fitzpatrick (1453), Ann Mawhinney (1236), Keith Hughes (1204), David Jesson (1145), Kristy McBain (1109), Liz Seckold (1016), Pat Campbell (884), Bill Taylor (882), Judy Geary (408), Jamie Shaw (375), Mary Dawson (346), Ivan McKay (193) and Roy Day (188).
What is interesting to note about the first preference voting is that Mr Allen’s support looks to be shire-wide, with a relatively even spread of polling booth figures.
The poll asking voters to indicate whether they supported the retention of the Pambula District Hospital – at a cost to the State Government of $37.5 million - once the new regional hospital is opened in Bega received an 82.6 per cent vote in the affirmative.
Plenty of ‘donkeys’ on election day
INFORMAL votes were very high in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla elections on Saturday.
The informal vote in Eurobodalla meanwhile was even higher at a reported 17 per cent, with the huge ballot paper due to the 53 candidates and 21 mayoral candidates probably a factor.
At the Bega High School polling booths, Tony Allen received the most votes with 430, informal came next with 189 and Liz Seckold was third with 160.
Overall there was an informal rate of 8.37 per cent.
Scrutineers at Bega High reported a lot of the informals were blank, others had just a row of 0s, there were the usual swear words and one wrote “all twits”.
However, quite a number of informals were due to the voter only marking one box and many had five or more figures, but missed out on one - such as 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 - or put two numbers together - such as 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5.
One voter must have spent some time in the booth as his or her voting slip had drawings and a list of 0s.