Tony Wellington draws clear in Noosa election race
TONY Wellington is beginning to draw away from Sandy Bolton in the race for the Noosa mayoralty, with his lead increasing with each new count.
The pair were separated by only 369 votes on Sunday when retiring Mayor Noel Playford confidently predicted it was a done deal for Mr Wellington, whose campaign he had mentored.
At that point only 28,698 of 38,758 eligible votes had been counted but trends, once established, are rarely proven wrong.
With 78.59% of the voted counted yesterday afternoon, Mr Wellington had secured 12,238 votes to Ms Bolton's 11,609 - a lead of 629.
Mr Wellington held 41.99% with Ms Bolton slipping below 40% to 39.83% and the third candidate, Ray Kelly, improving slightly to 18.19% with 5301 votes.
Of new votes counted as eligible yesterday Mr Wellington secured 46.93%, Ms Bolton 32.02% and Mr Kelly 21.05%, figures that show a strengthening trend towards Mr Wellington.
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Ms Bolton said regardless of the trend, she would "see what tomorrow brings".
"While there is light, there is hope,'" Ms Bolton said.
"There are still outstanding postal votes to be done and then preference distribution. There is a way to go yet."
Ms Bolton said a lot of Ray Kelly's vote had been very much part of the hinterland, where she had hoped to perform strongly.
It appeared a lot of voters had followed campaign advice to "vote one only", which had slowed the flow of preferences.
"We won't know for a while," she said. "I'll just keep on rocking on.
"I'll worry about it when it happens. In the meantime I'll keep doing the job as a councillor and there's a lot of work."
Mr Wellington was not prepared to declare victory, with a final count not likely until after the Easter break.
But he said if postal votes followed the pattern established by pre-poll voters "it looks pretty good".
"Sandy Bolton ran a strong campaign," he said.
"She outspent me three to one and had a TV ad blitz I couldn't do.
"She had a lot of support."
Questioned about whether the vote would continue to split the Noosa community, Mr Wellington said he had always said he would lead a collaborative council and that remained his intent.
"To quote the Prime Minister, I want to be a leader among peers. I intend to collaborate amongst peers in the best interests of Noosa.
"The first thing for me will be a long discussion with the CEO about priorities for the next 12 months. Then there will be three new councillors who will need programs to bring them up to speed."
Mr Wellington said he would sit down with each councillor individually to get an understanding of what they wanted to achieve during the next term.
There would also be a debate about whether the portfolio system should continue and committee chairs would have to be selected.
The election campaign had reminded him about how passionate and engaged the Noosa community was.
Brian Stockwell is tipped to join returning councillors Frank Pardon, Frank Wilkie and Joe Jurisevic on the six-member undivided Noosa Council, along with other newcomers Ingrid Jackson and Jess Glasgow.
Mr Wellington praised Mr Kelly as someone he had long admired and who had conducted himself as a true gentleman.
He said his candidacy had been hampered by Noosa's high population churn rate, that sees 40% change every five years.
"An obvious lesson from this campaign which has also been reflected in the Sunshine Coast Council result is that incumbency is a massive advantage," he said.