INCUMBENT mayor Col Murray has smashed the Tamworth Regional Council poll with an outstanding result of 5668 in the initial count of first-preference votes.
He clearly is ahead of the pack, with next-best poller, deputy mayor Russell Webb, on 2932 – about half that of Cr Murray’s vote count.
Warren Woodley was next, on 2479, with former mayor and current councillor James Treloar on 2336. Best of the newcomers so far is Mark Rodda, on 2063.
Cr Murray said he was “very, very happy” with the result in this, his third election experience.
“I’ve been around the middle of the pack both times (before) but, as mayor, you get a bit more recognition (so it helps when people go to vote),” he said.
Cr Murray said Tamworth Regional Council had made some “hard decisions lately” and that the return of many incumbent councillors was a “strong endorsement of the previous council”.
“I’m grateful for the support and I thank them for it,” he said of the faith the public had shown him and other incumbents.
“I’d like to thank the other councillors, too.”
He said many other councils around the state had large numbers of candidates fighting on specific, individual campaigns, for example Wagga Wagga had 57 – but the fact that Tamworth only had 17 “brings a fairly strong message from the community out there” that people were not split on many issues in our electorate.
He said that the campaign to save Tamworth’s King George V Ave oak trees “didn’t have a strong influence on the vote” despite “people making strong comments against councillors” in the lead-up to Saturday’s election.
He said it “doesn’t appear it reflects across the wider community” of the Tamworth Regional Council area.
Cr Murray, who has been mayor for the past two years (a vote among councillors is held annually), said the mayoral vote for the incoming council would be held on Tuedsay, September 25.
“It’s good (to have the vote annually) because it keeps the mayor accountable to the councillors,” he said.
As at 2.10pm yesterday, formal votes counted were 31,520; informal votes totalled 1860 and progressive ordinary votes were 33,380.
Voter turnout was 82.93 per cent, with the quota needed to be elected standing at 3153 votes (at 2.10pm yesterday).
Helen Tickle’s result was 1992, with Moonbi’s Tim Coates’s result extraordinarily close to hers at 1932 and Juanita Wilson’s tally of 1734 also following closely.
Other candidates locked in a close battle were first-time candidate Danny Ballard of Barraba, on 1517 votes, another first-time candidate, 22-year-old Kimberley Sherwood, on 1378, Phil Betts (1373), Paul Durant (1356) and Ray Tait (1306). Barry Biffin (612 votes) and Judith Edmunds (537) were the only candidates not to reach four figures.