Mayoral battle tightens as shock polling results revealed
NOOSA Mayor Tony Wellington was locked in a close battle with contender Clare Stewart ahead of local government elections at the end of March, if exit polling from Tuesday night's You Decide forum was any guide.
Not everyone in the packed Noosaville auditorium participated in the Sunshine Coast Daily polling as they left the forum that had reflected both the campaign's tension and the split support for mayoral and councillor candidates.
Cr Wellington was polished and assured in both his pitch and rebuttal of attacks on the council he has led for the past four years.
The exit polling put him slightly ahead of Ms Stewart at the end of the night by a margin of 69-67.
Exit polling for councillors, which required those taking part to nominate their preference to fill the six available spaces, indicated the high-profile Future Noosa campaign may be visible and vocal but has yet to swing necessary support to bring major change to the council ranks.
However, the result on March 28 is likely to be determined by the preference distribution from the large field of 20 candidates.
Of the four sitting councillors the top three secured a combined 173 votes in the exit poll to 111 for the Future Noosa group.
Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie with 75 votes had the most support in the room, Cr Joe Jurisevic fifth with 50 votes and Cr Brian Stockwell on 48.
Amelia Lorentson on 70 in second place, Phil Moran with 67 in third and Tom Wegener with 55 in fourth fill the critical top six places.
David Fletcher with 45 votes performed best of the Future Noosa group in exit polling followed by Andrew Squires on 36 and Karen Finzel on 30 votes.
Cr Jess Glagow's time in local government appeared to be drawing to a close following the debacle of his Bachelorette reality show appearance, securing just four votes after a disjointed presentation.
Based on the Sunshine Coast Daily You Decide exit polling the final three weeks of the campaign are going to be crucial to the outcome with the mayoralty in the balance and only Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie entitled to feel relatively safe he would be returned to office and Amelia Lorentson and Phil Moran enjoying front running for the remaining councillor positions.
YOU DECIDE EXIT POLL
Mayor: Tony Wellington (69); Clare Stewart (67).
Councillor: Frank Wilkie (75), Amelia Lorentson (70), Phil Moran (67), Tom Wegener (55), Joe Jurisevic (50), Brian Stockwell (48), David Fletcher (45), Yani Van Zijl (40), Andrew Squires (36), Patrick Lloyd (32), Greg Smith (31), Karen Finzel (30), Meghan Halverson (29), Julian Cahn (27), Karen Cook-Langdon (25), Alan Lander (23), Nathanael Ford (21), Janet Kake (20), Jess Glasgow (4), Sneznaa Redford (1)*
*Ms Redford did not attend the forum.