FORMER Gunnedah Shire mayor Gae Swain, who has decided to throw her hat into local politics once again after retiring from the council four years ago, has topped the poll in the 2012 local council elections for that shire.
Mrs Swain told The Leader yesterday she decided to run after “quite a large number of people” urged her to have a crack at council again when mayor Adam Marshall announced he would not be seeking re-election.
The shire was the only council in our region which chose to run its own election, separate to the NSW Electoral Commission-run local-government elections.
Mrs Swain is happy to have topped the poll.
“I’m humbled by it but I think it’s a mandate to continue representing the community,” she said.
Gunnedah returning officer Ian Horwood said yesterday morning that there were “not really” any surprises in the Gunnedah poll.
“The second top poller was (deputy mayor) Colleen Fuller,” Mr Horwood said.
“Both of those (candidates) will have their quota.”
He said the quota figure yesterday stood at roughly 689 votes in order for candidates to be elected.
“It’s not exactly known yet – it’s moving a bit because of informal votes coming in; we won’t know for sure (what the quota is) until tomorrow (Monday) night,” he said.
Mr Horwood said a “check count” was still to be done yesterday morning and expected, with declaration votes (people not on the roll and silent voters) and informal votes, that this could change results slightly.
“There’ll be minor changes today,” he said.
The initial count included pre-poll votes, postal votes, declared institutions and ballots cast on polling day, Saturday.
Cr Marshall, who is leaving local government to do finance and law studies at the University of New England, said the distribution of preferences would begin tonight.
Figures sent through yesterday by Mr Horwood show Mrs Swain and Cr Fuller the only two candidates in four figures on the vote count, with Mrs Swain on 1937 and Cr Fuller on 1532.
The next nearest count was Cr Hans Allgayer on 405; Cr Owen Hasler’s count was 363.
Mrs Swain previously served on Gunnedah Shire Council for 17 years, with nine of those as mayor.
When asked whether she would be going for the top job she said she didn’t think it would be appropriate to comment.
“I think that would depend on the make-up of council,” she said.
Mrs Swain said it was an exciting time for Gunnedah, with “lots of job opportunities” for young people now available and a “chance to make a good, professional living”.