I hear cheers and jeers.
Elections can’t please everyone. And there’s been a lot of mumbling and grumbling along with the cheers.
Cr Peter Epov’s group with 11,227 votes claimed two positions on Council – Peter Epov (Wingham) and Peter Howard (Forster / Tuncurry).
Cr Epov also had the highest personal vote ‘below the line’ of 1040 and his entire Group enjoyed the highest personal vote ‘below the line’ of 1762.
Epov did point out that if not for the archaic ‘quota’ system they could have claimed a further Council seat for Sandra Bourke (Tea Gardens / Hawks Nest).
We assume most who voted for Epov expected him to become the Mayor as he carried the community mandate, from Hawks Nest to Wingham.
Unsurprisingly, the council cabal of the old timers, corporate and council heavyweights, did not agree with the community. Cr Epov commented that disappointed as he was, he was not surprised.
Nor were a lot of us watching the first council meeting live streamed, when we saw the seating arrangements in council arraigned in line before the vote for mayor.
Watch out, no doubt there will be a community campaign to lobby for our mayor to be elected by popular vote and not by the councillors, as is the case with most councils.
The Party Vote
The representatives of the Liberals and Labor pulled in votes for Cr Fowler (Liberal) and former MCC Mayor David West, who had previously run as an Independent, who opted this time to run as second on the Liberal Party ticket.
Cr Claire Pontin, Hallidays Point, ran as the Labor candidate pulling in 6,165 votes. She was subsequently voted Mayor 7 to 4.
But one has to wonder why do people continually vote for political party candidates at local government elections when there is no agenda? (The Nats must love us having a Labor Mayor!)
Alan Tickle was voted Deputy Mayor and he did have some strong support on his ticket with the rising ‘local star’ – Donna Ballard. Watch out for her next time around.
New faces include the Greens candidate, Dheera Smith, “star turn” the effusive Jeremy Miller, (does he have his eye on Canberra?) Paul Sandilands from Forster who scraped in thanks to a mamouth job done by former councillor and Mayor, Jan McWilliams to whip up support for him.
A surprise was the high vote for newcomer Jessica Corkill who did well with limited campaigning experience and resources, by picking up 2,757 votes, particularly from the last position on the ballot paper, Group M. Clearly she is one to watch out for in the future.
Cr Bell, Cr Smith and Cr Fowler along with former Mayor West were returned to Council.
Voting is compulsory, but clearly there were some 10,768 people who did not vote, and whilst some may have had very legitimate reasons for not voting, an extraordinary number of people were prepared to cop the $55.00 fine to the NSW Government rather than to turn up and get their name crossed off the list.
Clearly the electorate needs to be better informed next time when casting a vote at the ballot box.
But the biggest factor of all in this MidCoast Council election which also applies to the looming Federal election, is the strength and popularity of Independent candidates. The majority of votes in this MCC election went to Independents.
Maybe a sign of the times; Let’s think for ourselves, make our own decisions, rather than simply toe the party line.
The major parties are going to have be very clear, very honest, and very brave to tackle what’s ahead of us.
Same goes for MidCoast Council.
We’ll be watching.