New mayor, new era: Here's Hartwig’s plan
OUTSPOKEN councillor Glen Hartwig has toppled incumbent mayor Mick Curran as part of a massive shake-up at Saturday's Gympie council election.
As of yesterday afternoon, Mr Hartwig had more than 51 per cent of the vote, a tally that put him 17 points ahead of Mr Curran's 33 per cent vote.
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It was a stunning fall for Mr Curran, who claimed victory in 2016 with 68 per cent of the primary vote.
Voters turned on the incumbent council in their droves.
Former councillors Mal Gear and Daryl Dodt lost their seats, and Mark McDonald and Bob Leitch are at risk of losing theirs.
But the dramatic air of election night was sucked out by technical issues with the Electoral Commission Queensland's website, with voters left in limbo without any voting tally updates for hours.
When the system did start working again it became clear the region's support was firmly behind the outspoken Mr Hartwig.
"It was going to be difficult enough to repair the financial position we're in before corona," Mr Hartwig said following the election.
"Now with the impact of the virus we have massive amounts of work to do just to try and help stabilise business in the region and do things to help them bounce back."
With criticism in some corners about the role social media played in his win, Mr Hartwig said:
"The (Gympie Regional) Forum never supported me to begin with. But when they saw I was standing on principles (they did)."
He said his affiliation with the group was only as a member; something he shared with current and former councillors Dan Stewart, Mal Gear and Hilary Smerdon.
"Whether they (the forum) played a role in the election, I don't know," Mr Hartwig said.
Now with a four-year term ahead, he said part of the plan was for "small, intelligent spends" that put money into businesses, especially through sports tourism.
"We've got to start to really, actually, address some of the problems with our sporting fields," he said.
"There's a huge opportunity for sporting tourism to be a large part of our economic platform, and we've missed the boat there in the past four years."
And was he surprised to snag more than half the primary vote?
"I was quietly confident, but the reality is you never know," he said.
"I didn't have the massive budgets that other people had. I had to rely on the integrity of the Gympie voter and it shone through."
Mr Curran was approached for comment.