New talent time for Tweed council
FIVE new councillors will head the Tweed Shire Council for the next four years with Kingscliff's Ron Cooper snatching the seventh and final seat when the count concluded today.
Candidates crowded around a small computer screen at the NSW Electoral Commission's Tweed Heads office at 2pm today, as returning officer Pamela Costello pushed the final button to distribute preferences.
After a long and drawn out campaign, the final results were known within seconds, with Greens candidate Katie Milne securing a third term, finishing first with the most votes.
Nationals' stalwart Warren Polglase came in second, returned for a fifth term, and was followed by the darkhorse of the campaign, small businessman Pryce Allsop, who placed third with a surprisingly strong showing, collecting significant support in pre-polling numbers, particularly in his home town of Murwillumbah.
He was followed by the Liberals' James Owen and Labor's Reece Byrnes, with Pottsville community candidate Chris Cherry finishing sixth.
All eyes were on the seventh and final spot, with the hotly-contested seat secured by Kingscliff's No High Rise candidate Ron Cooper on the back of preferences from former deputy mayor Gary Bagnall who failed to retain his seat, as did Carolyn Byrne and Barry Longland.
Speaking after the count, Mr Cooper said he felt "very good” about his win before remembering his dear friend Ken Nicholson, a candidate on Mr Cooper's ticket whose death meant the Tweed poll had to be rescheduled.
"I think Ken (Nicholson) would have been jumping rather than anything else, he would have loved this,” Mr Cooper said.
"I will get to have a go at getting all the things I need to get done on council and that is the way consultation is done.”
Mr Cooper, who celebrated his 74th birthday yesterday, said although he had experience, it was "a long time” since he last served on council.
"Consultation was almost non-existant in my time before,” he said.
Mr Allsop, an independent who runs a hardware business in Murwillumbah, said he was excited to have out-polled some of the big parties.
"I'm really excited, I think it says it all that we beat the major parties to get in,” he said.
"We didn't have the people on the ground to get out there and campaign for us. It's good the community supports independents. My goal is to serve them well and to bring them what they want which is what we ran with. I'm looking forward to it with passion.”
Community candidate Chris Cherry, who is well known for her fight to secure a high school for Pottsville, was very pleased with her success.
"I'm extremely excited,” Ms Cherry said.
"I feel really positive about the whole thing. There's a real team here that can work together.”
But Cr Polglase was a bit more cautious.
"We'll see what the council will be able to deliver because with five new councillors it's going to be a challenge,” he said.
"It'll be interesting to see because they've got a lot to learn.”
The final outcome of the poll will be formally declared by the NSW Electoral Commission tomorrow.