OUTGOING Noosa Mayor Noel Playford has called the election result a win to Councillor Tony Wellington over Cr Sandy Bolton around 1pm today after his lead increased to 629. Cr Playford, who will hand over to his successor after the official swearing in is completed after the poll declaration, was acting as a vote scrutineer for Cr Wellington this morning. He said despite there being "quite a few hundred" postal votes to count "it (the Wellington lead) won't be turned around". "There aren't enough votes for it to be turned around, frankly," Cr Playford said. "But it will take days and days to confirm - they'll probably get a few more hundred postal votes in tomorrow - there's quite a lot outstanding - but it's clear now that Tony will be the new mayor. "The margin has increased from election night." Cr Wellington with 30,468 votes counted has 12,238 votes or 41.99% to Cr Bolton's 11,609 (39.83) with Ray Kelly a distant third on 5301 (18.19%). Noosa is not used to this sort of cliffhanger, with outgoing Mayor Noel Playford winning in a cakewalk in 2013, while outgoing Deputy Mayor Bob Abbot has previously taken the top job uncontested.
Cr Wellington, who was with his supporters at the Tinbeerwah Hall, said on election night there was a long way to go in the overall count.
"It's too close to call," Cr Wellington said.
"No one will know for a week, I don't think.
"It's an interesting time in Noosa's history ... it's been 19 years since Noosa has had an untried mayor and in this case it is going to come down to either myself or Sandy Bolton who will be the first new mayor to put their feet under the mayoral desk for almost two decades."
Cr Bolton, who was with her support crew at the Noosa Heads Bowls Club, said whichever way the contest went, "it has been a really worthwhile journey". By Sunday, people were texting her "madly in a frenzy", but she was not perturbed at all by the closeness of the count.
"It's neck-a-neck, very exciting. Whatever it is, it is," she said. "I'm just concentrating on family and it's been months since I've been able to do that and so it's been beautiful."
Cr Bolton said she would be back in the office helping smooth over whatever transition was required as Noosa welcomed in its new incoming councillors - with or without her.
"It doesn't concern me, it's just part of the process," she said.
The vote left Mr Kelly, 73, a former long-term Cooroy councillor, lamenting that low-budget campaigns like his could no longer cut it in Noosa where campaigns needed cashed-up backers.
"I'm out the back door I think," he said.
He believed that it was not just his age and his length of time out of office which cost him at the ballot box.
"The big spend by the other two has been colossal ... no longer is local government local," Mr Kelly said.
He said there was "now a whole new ball game to local politics and I think it's finally hit Noosa."
Mr Kelly said it was hard to compete against $50,000 or $30,000 campaigns.
Mayor Playford said from a personal point of view the declaration means he could "resume an interrupted life". "But it's been a satisfying period as we did what we said we would do and it's been a fantastic team effort - that's been one of the most pleasing things about it. "We have our differences about some things but we put them all aside and got on the job. "I think the community will expect this new council to do the same - make sure it's a team effort guys," Cr Playford said.
- PETER GARDINER
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