Leading the way in council poll’s waiting game
PLAYING the mayoral waiting in Noosa in these coronavirus constricted days has seen a reflective Mayor Tony Wellington and his feisty rival Clare Stewart well occupied.
On a personal level Cr Wellington has ditched any cabin fever by pursuing one of the few recreational pursuits not wiped out by COVID-19.
He took to the waves off Tea-Tree Bay in Noosa National Park this morning before turning his matters to the day-to-day caretaker council duties and as leader of Noosa's coronavirus response.
Ms Stewart for her part was equally engaged on the home front arranging school work to help home school her children who are home on pupil-free days from Good Shepherd Lutheran College.
Ms Stewart leads narrowly in the latest polling with a huge stack of postal votes still to be counted, but both contenders are adamant this is still anybody's race for the top job in the most challenging of times.
"I've just come from a nice surf," Cr Wellington said.
"Of course with coronavirus there's more people surfing.
As for the poll, he's trying to stay chilled awhile focused on his official roles.
"They got 10 business days to allow the postal votes to come in and they've got no idea knowing which way the postal goes," he said.
"I'm about 300 votes behind at the moment but there are 5000 postal votes still to be counted."
The mayor conceded that the tightness of the contest in some ways has been influenced by the jailing of Cr Frank Pardon on sex offences and the public outcry over Cr Jess Glasgow's disastrous Bachelorette reality TV appearance.
"I do think it played a part in their thinking they (the voters) wanting more women. The voting trend is more towards women
"I think social media played a bigger part this time and not necessarily for the better, there was also a lot of dirty tactics this time,
"Almost all of corflutes (election signs) from Tewantin to Peregian were stolen and as soon as we put them back they'd disappear again, so we just had to give up."
He said for the moment he was continuing on as chair of the Local Disaster Management Group that is having regular meetings and updates on the pandemic.
"I've got plenty to consume my time," he said.
Ms Stewart's mind has been tragically drawn away from this tight contest by the death of her mother-in-law and namesake Claire Stewart over the weekend.
Tellingly the other Claire was elected as mayor of New Plymouth in New Zealand.
Ms Stewart is taking nothing out of her slight lead over Cr Wellington conceding the contest was "very tight".
"You just don't know what's going to happen over the next few days," she said.
"Either way, whatever the outcome I'm just so grateful for experience because of the people I've met along the way and the support and encouragement.
"I've made such good friends, so it's a win-win."
Ms Stewart said doing schoolwork online was keeping her busy and "just staying close to the phone, watching the (polling numbers), but spending some time with my children really".
"It's been a long arduous five months (campaigning). I think it shows there has been a lot of community unrest. People have felt maybe they've lost a bit of faith in council along the way," she said.
"That's the pick up I was getting, that they weren't listening. I think there's a lot that needs to be done for the community to heal it in many ways.
"It's a very divided community as the vote shows, I think that the first thing that the council has to do is re-engage with the community."
Her top priority if elected will be to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis playing out before working on the restoration of trust in council for the community.
"I think there's a good eight or 10 of us who are all on a bit of knife's edge at the moment," she said.
"COVID-19 has changed the landscape in so many respects," Ms Stewart said.