Two candidates for the Bega Valley Shire Council are home and hosed after counting of primary votes following Saturday’s election.
Mayor Tony Allen polled most primary votes (2942) and hot on his heels was Lochiel’s Sharon Tapscott, who was a surprise bolter with 2580 number ones next to her name.
The rest of the council won’t be decided until the preferences have been counted (a final result is expected this afternoon), although going on primaries alone it appears there will be a number of changes beyond filling the three vacancies left by David Hede, Graeme Wykes and Paul Pincini.
Existing councillors Allen, Michael Britten, Russell Fitzpatrick, Keith Hughes and Liz Seckold were all in the top nine for primary votes, while Pat Campbell will be hoping his preferences are strong to elevate him from 11th spot.
David Jesson, Ann Mawhinney and Kristy McBain are newcomers in the top nine and should the latter two be successful, there could soon be four women councillors for the first time in its history.
Voter turnout for the 2012 election was 81.2 per cent, which means around 4500 enrolled voters didn’t cast a ballot paper, while of the 19,772 who did, 1635 failed to fill out the ballot paper correctly or filed donkey votes.
However, the hospital issue appears to have sparked most interest and Tapscott’s involvement appears to have been the key for her success with strong results in polling booths in the southern part of the shire.
In Eden, she scored a massive 885 primary votes, which is not surprising as the Lochiel resident who has a family business in Eden is the only representative this far south.
In booths north of Tura, where she polled third in a close race, support sharply dropped away with a total of just 97 primary votes.
Fellow Pambula hospital advocate Russell Fitzpatrick also polled well in the southern part of the shire, topping the Pambula Public School booth and coming second at Eden Marine High School, albeit some 634 primaries behind Tapscott.
Allen was third in Eden with 94 but scored well in all other areas (see page three for progressive booth-by-booth results).
Meanwhile, The Greens suffered a 24.5 per cent drop in primary votes from the last Bega Valley Shire Council election, reflecting the trend in local government elections across the state where there had been a wholesale shift against the political party.
However, strong support in Tathra and Bermagui saw Hughes pick up seven per cent of the primary vote and once new Greens candidate Jamie Shaw’s preferences are counted, it’s likely Hughes will retain his seat on council.
The complex preferencing system is now what most of the high primary vote winners are waiting on to see if they’ll make it in.
The system works by calculating a quota from the total number of formal votes (incorrectly marked ballot papers are informal votes and not counted), which is divided by the number of available seats on council plus one (so nine council seats plus one equals 10), with one vote added. To be elected, each councillor must achieve that quota.
At the time of going to press that figure was 1814 (votes are still being counted), which means Allen and Tapscott are automatically elected because their primary votes are already above that figure.
All their votes above that 1814 quota figure will be redistributed with the next choice on their ballot paper getting the numbers.
After that, all the candidates who polled least primary votes will have their votes redistributed, with constant readjustments each time a candidate’s numbers go over 1814, until there are nine candidates each with 1814 votes.
See pages two and three for more election coverage.