Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch is narrowly behind Warren Polley for the Division 7 seat. Picture: Shane Zahner
Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch is narrowly behind Warren Polley for the Division 7 seat. Picture: Shane Zahner

Tight race for coast, Southside seats

VOTERS could be faced with a week-long wait for the outcomes in Divisions 1 and 3, with both fights neck-and-neck, separated by less than 50 votes.

On the coast, incumbent Mark McDonald has a slim lead of less than .5 per cent over Jess Milne, and on the Southside businessman Warren Polley has a slightly larger lead (1.3 per cent) over former deputy mayor Bob Leitch.

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Preferences are yet to be allocated and the winners may not be declared until next Wednesday after all postal votes have rolled in.

Mark McDonald is hanging on by his fingernails in Division 1. Picture: Shane Zahner
Mark McDonald is hanging on by his fingernails in Division 1. Picture: Shane Zahner

The incumbents’ struggles are part of a broad backlash against the perceived “Team Curran” voting bloc, which some councillors and Mick Curran himself denied existed.

Division 4 councillor Daryl Dodt has lost his seat, with blogger Bruce Devereaux the likely winner, with 38 per cent of the primary vote.

Mal Gear has lost Division 3, but was gracious in his defeat. That seat appears to have been won by Shane Waldock, who has a 6 point lead.

Mr Gear was neck-and-neck with Colleen Miller for second place.

The fight for Division 2 – vacated by mayor-elect Glen Hartwig – appears to have been won by Dolly Jensen with 60 per cent support, but she did not want to jinx the results and claim victory yesterday.

These seats will be occupied by some new faces next month. Photo Renee Pilcher / The Gympie Times
These seats will be occupied by some new faces next month. Photo Renee Pilcher / The Gympie Times

The more outspoken councillors were the big winners on election night. Hilary Smerdon, whose division extends from the western parts right in to Pie Creek, and Bob Fredman in the Mary Valley, retained their seats with leads of 25 per cent or more, and Dan Stewart should keep the Division 5 seat after opening a 13 percentage point lead on Chelle Dobson. Mr Smerdon said the council’s financial position was a top priority for him. “I am going to try and turn this council around and turn it into a more sustainable council that brings it back into the black,” he said.

Dan Stewart said voters were “dissatisfied” with the last council. “That’s quite obvious,” he said. This term he wanted to make sure the council considered the long-term cost of projects alongside the upfront ones, and “budget responsibly”. Mr Fredman said if he could garner enough support from the next councillors “things will change”.