Gympie endorses its council
GYMPIE Region Mayor-elect Ron Dyne late yesterday appeared to be the sole survivor in bloodbath council elections across the Wide Bay Burnett region.
And, as counting continued yesterday, Mr Dyne said he also appeared to be the only sitting mayor to be returned to office along the whole east coast of Queensland from here to Cairns.
Of 73 local authorities in Queensland, latest figures indicated that only nine sitting mayors were re-elected at Saturday's statewide council elections.
Despite frequent expressions of disquiet by many in the lead-up to the Gympie Region poll, electors have generally endorsed the council's performance via the voting booths, with only two sitting councillors, Donna Neilson and Graham Engeman, facing defeat.
In stark contrast, Fraser Coast voters sacked the lot (with one possible but uncertain exception), including the region's first Mayor Mick Kruger.
At the latest count late yesterday, Mr Dyne had accumulated 9046 votes, well ahead of his still-optimistic rival Mick Venardos, who was trailing with 6769 votes.
But, with 68% of the vote counted and about 700 votes to go, most observers were awarding the win to Mr Dyne.
But Mr Venardos was yesterday refusing to concede defeat, although he would need more than half of the remaining votes to overcome Mr Dyne's lead of about 1500 votes.
Mr Dyne was happy to speculate on better times ahead for the Gympie Region yesterday, after the trauma of four years adjusting to an unpopular and expensive council amalgamation process, which formed Gympie Region out of the former Cooloola Shire, Kilkivan Shire and the southern section of Tiaro Shire.
He attributed Gympie's more forgiving electorate to the last years of Cooloola Shire, which saw "fairly traumatic" ructions between Mr Venardos and then-councillor Ron Owen, who was defeated in his own run for the Gympie Regional Council on Saturday.
"It was a battlefield," Mr Dyne said yesterday.
"A big criticism of me was that I wasn't out there selling the council, but felt the region needed stability and people wanted it to get on with the job.
"After four years of battle, it was a good team and a good council to work with.
"I think everyone pulled their weight.
"Like everything you have your moments, but you have your two bob's worth and get on with it."