Top two take clear lead
Saturday was a historic day in Tumut, Tumbarumba and surrounds.
It was the first time residents turned out to vote for their chosen representatives in the new Snowy Valleys Council.
After a contentious amalgamation announcement, eighteen months of protest and a herculean effort to combine two very different council bureaucracies, a return to normalcy is one step closer.
Nearly 8000 people formally voted this weekend, and the results are expected to be finalised, with the successful candidates announced, this week. First preferences have been counted, but postal votes didn’t officially close until six p.m. yesterday, and all votes still need to be checked by the NSW Electoral Commission working out of Queanbeyan.
However, as of Monday, Tumbarumba businessman and active community member Bruce Wright is the most popular man in the Snowy Valleys, with 21 per cent of the vote.
Following him are James Hayes, John Larter, Julia Ham, and Cate Cross.
Out of the ten candidates, nine will be elected to council – but that does not necessarily mean the the person with the lowest number of first preference votes will be the one to miss out.
Local government elections operate on a quota system. Once each candidate achieves a certain amount of votes, the remaining preferences on that candidate’s #1 ballots are distributed according to a complex formula. We won’t know how this falls until it’s calculated by the NSW Electoral Commission.
However, as of Monday, the candidate with the least amount of first preference votes was long-time former councillor Audrey McKenzie, who said she was nevertheless feeling positive about the incoming council.
“I’m feeling excellent,” she said.
“It’s a very good cross-section of the council area elected, which bodes well for a good representation. It’s what I wanted.
“The community has elected the candidates they feel will serve the Snowy Valleys Council for this term, and I’m quite pleased with the result.”
Election by the numbers
For the most part this weekend, the townships in the shire supported the candidates that came from their respective areas.
Adelong got behind their traditional representative James Hayes, with the teacher collecting 58 per cent of the formal votes counted at the Adelong S&C Club.
Batlow bandied for Margaret Isselmann, with the Batlow Rotary President receiving more than double the number of first preference votes than the next highest candidate, Cor Smit. Those councillors took in 40 per cent and 18 per cent of the Batlow votes respectively.
Khancoban selected candidates that were also from smaller townships, with the popular choices being Bruce Wright, Julia Ham, Margaret Isselmann, and Cor Smit. Probably not coincidentally, those four candidates also attended all of the ‘Meet the Candidates’ meetings throughout the shire, including the one in Khancoban.
In Rosewood, Tumbarumba candidates Bruce Wright and Julia Ham were the clear favourites, taking up 49 and 36 per cent of the vote respectively.
Talbingo also supported Bruce Wright, giving him 21 per cent of their first preference votes, followed by Cate Cross with 17 per cent.
As was expected, Bruce Wright and Julia Ham snagged the lion’s share of the vote in Tumbarumba. Together they dominated with more than 90 per cent of the first preference votes: 59 per cent for Bruce and 31 per cent for Julia.
There were two options for polling places in Tumut, and there was a fairly significant difference in results between the two.
Perhaps the school building at Tumut High reminded voters of James Hayes: the former deputy mayor is a long-time teacher there, and is the current Head Teacher of Special Education. Whatever the reason, voters who filled out their ballots at the high school gave him 23 per cent of their first preferences.
At Tumut Public, Cate Cross received more first preferences than any other candidate, with 20 per cent of the votes at that polling station.
Overall in Tumut James Hayes was the favourite, with 20 per cent of the vote, followed by John Larter, 18 per cent; Cate Cross, 18 per cent; and Bruce Wright, 12 per cent.
Meanwhile, 2,688 people chose to pre-poll, with James Hayes again taking out Tumut with 26 per cent of the vote, followed by John Larter, and Bruce Wright again taking out Tumbarumba with 58 per cent, followed by Julia Ham.
However, there’s a chance that after weeks of campaigning and discussing issues out in the community, the election results may have just come down to dumb luck: the two candidates with the highest vote share were also the first two on the ballot.