YOU DECIDE: How council election battles are shaping up
PEOPLE could be forgiven for forgetting there was an election on this weekend, given the global pandemic focus which is changing life as we know it.
But it’s changes to lifestyle, and fears of a loss of it, that are framing the battlefield upon which Saturday’s Sunshine Coast Council election will be won or lost.
After two terms underpinned by significant economic development, Mayor Mark Jamieson is seeking endorsement for a third term.
He’s stated he wants to put a halt on growth until transport infrastructure catches up, but plenty are sceptical of that, given the appetite for development, and council’s own transition into a major developer, under his watch.
Looking for a changed direction is Mr Jamieson’s former deputy mayor, Chris Thompson.
The ex-Division 4 councillor took a four-year hiatus, but is back, running on a vow to restore balance to the community. He offers past experience in managing council’s finance portfolio through the global economic crisis as evidence he’s up to the job now.
Fellow candidate Don Innes has been on the attack throughout the campaign, targeting Mr Thompson and Mr Jamieson alike, as he pitches himself as the long-time local ready to make change.
Michael Burgess has been big on numbers and ideas but is the self-acknowledged underdog.
This is a two-man race, in which voter satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the culture, planning decisions, achievements and direction of the current council and mayor are being considered against Thompson’s promise to deliver transparency, accountability and trust in the council.
A new council is guaranteed with four incumbent councillors making their exit.
In Division 1 Cr Rick Baberowksi faces a real test from prominent businesswoman and community worker Jenny Broderick who appears strongest of his three opponents.
In Division 2, the race to replace Deputy Mayor Tim Dwyer may lack diversity but is not short of desire.
Brady Sullivan has doorknocked homes for a year, while well-known locals Terry Landsberg and Tim Hamilton have solid support.
Shane Scriggins and Peter Tramacchi round out a strong field seeking to replace the outgoing Deputy Mayor.
Peter Cox looks safe in Division 3 where he faces a field of wildcards in Mike Jessop, Michael McDonald, Stan Nawrocki and Pamela Mariko, none of whom can match his experience.
In the blue-chip Division 4 former Wallabies coach John Connolly is being challenged by ex-Maroochy Shire Mayor Joe Natoli, respected community lawyer Julian Porter and long-time local businessman Todd Forrest.
Whether Mr Natoli can pull votes in Maroochydore remains to be seen. His campaign has focused heavily in the southern parts of the division and letter boxing pamphlets.
Cr Connolly faces unrest over paid parking plans and concerns about aspects of Mooloolaba placemaking but points to progress on several milestone projects and SunCentral precinct progress.
Division 5 is wide open with 10 candidates lined up to replace retiring councillor Jenny McKay.
Former Caloundra City councillor Winston Johnston has spent big on his campaign, while independents Greg Cutlack, Greg Williams, Tracie Sanim and Greens candidate Tracy Burton have been more low key.
Division 6 councillor Christian Dickson looks safe in Sippy Downs and surrounds where he enjoyed a massive 72 per cent of the vote four years ago.
Youngster Siobhan Gosper has impressed, while Wayne Holly has worked hard to sell himself as an alternative, but an upset appears unlikely.
Ted Hungerford is the target in a four-man race for Division 7, with Cam Young and Steve Dickson attempting to knock over the long-time incumbent.
Popular businessman Chris White, with a strong local profile through two decades as a restaurateur in Buderim, shapes as the outsider who could cause an upset.
Cr Hungerford is a seasoned campaigner who works hard to cover his electorate from day one, so will be quietly backing himself to prevail.
Division 8 sees Councillor Jason O’Pray and challenger Kathryn Hyman square off in one of the hottest contests of the campaign.
Cr O’Pray has lost some of his key base with boundary realignments, picking up votes in territory north of the river where the council has lost plenty of favour.
Ms Hyman has positioned herself as a tough campaigner and advocate aligning her with community groups in key suburbs of the electorate through her stance against floodplain housing development and airport flight impacts. Cr O’Pray points to his voting record but his support has softened in the past four years.
In Division 9 five hopefuls are bidding to be retiring Cr Steve Robinson’s replacement with the result shaping as a contest for preferences between Daren Edwards and Maria Suarez in a strong field of five.
Support for Angela Dunbavan may surprise with her preferences to favour Ms Suarez.
Hinterland bulldog, Division 10 councillor Greg Rogerson, is begrudgingly calling time on his civic career, sparking a seven-person race that includes his former assistant, Hilary Wallace, and 21-year-old Cortney Claridge as his preferred successors.
But David Law and Keith Campbell have impressed while Greens candidate Sue Etheridge has the campaign experience.
With almost 70,000 voters having pre-polled already, and a record number of postal votes recorded this election’s results may already be in the ballot box.
Stay tuned to our rolling coverage throughout election day (Saturday, March 28), to find out who will claim the coveted seats.