FOUR sitting councillors have a nervous wait to determine if they will be re-elected for another term on Tamworth Regional Council.
Councillorsrs Ray Tait, Paul Durant, Juanita Wilson and Phil Betts are likely to be in a battle for the final places on the new council.
Three of them – Cr Tait (1308 votes), Cr Durant (1360) and Cr Betts (1376) – are well short of the quota and will rely heavily on a big influx of preferences.
Cr Wilson is better placed with 1738 first preference votes but still a long way short of the 3157 votes required for election.
It is likely at least two councillors won’t secure re-election, but with no preference trails and with some ballot papers only containing preferences from 1 to 5, it is possible the quota number will be hard to achieve.
Cr Tait is fairly sure he won’t get in.
“No, I don’t (think I will),” he said yesterday.
“To be frank, it’s pretty much caught myself and the others a bit off guard ... it’s going to be a nip and duck thing, it’s going to be very, very tight for all of us – it’s going to go to preferences,” Cr Tait said.
But he could feel the winds of change in the air, with the “momentum before the election” for stronger support for locals such as Sandy Allan of Manilla, who used slogans such as “vote for a youth representative” or “vote for a bushie”.
“(Voters are) going towards their local people,” Cr Tait said.
But he said it was democracy at work and had no regrets.
“I accept the vote of the people. I’ve said for a long while if you’re doing a good job, they’ll put you back. If not, they’ll put you off,” he said.
Cr Tait had fielded calls from the other three councillors whose positions looked shaky.
“They’re like me – they’re concerned and they’re asking questions of themselves and that’s pretty sad. There’s some people who have put in some hard yards,” Cr Tait said.
Cr Tait has served two terms on council – one on the old Tamworth City Council between 2000-04 and now 2008-12.
If he doesn’t get back in, he’s thinking of hanging up his local-government hat for good.
“At the moment, the way I’m thinking, if I don’t get back in this time, that will be it,” he said.
Cr Betts agreed with Cr Tait it was democracy at work and that he would accept the final result.
“No, I’m not confident,” he said of his chances yesterday.
“I’m realistic. I’m not going to get in.”
His position was “absolutely shaky – you never know until all the preferences have been distributed”.
Cr Betts has had a distinguished 21-year career in local government, serving on the former Parry Shire Council from 1991 for three, three-year terms.
For all of that time, except one year, he was either mayor or deputy mayor.
He has had two four-year terms on Tamworth Regional Council being deputy mayor between 2004-10.
“It’s probably one of the better councils I’ve had to work with – you have your vigorous discussions and even arguments, but they’re just left in the chamber,” he said.
Councillors Durant and Wilson could not be reached yesterday.