Winners: Curran, McDonald
GYMPIE police officer and former track-and-field star Mick Curran is too fleet-footed to trip just before the finish line, but he was loathe yesterday to claim victory in Division 7 before the poll is officially declared next week.
He could not however dispute a healthy lead in the count over his nearest rival, long-serving councillor Donna Neilson, or her concession of defeat.
He and Tin Can Bay newsagent Mark McDonald (Division 1) seemed assured of victory.
And ex-Cooloola Shire councillor Wayne Sachs was yesterday in the lead in the hotly-contested Division 4.
Mr Curran said he was excited about his new role in the community he grew up in and was passionate about, and looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Married to schoolteacher Sue, and with three school-aged children, Mr Curran is a former student of the Christian Brothers College and Gympie State High School, and a Gympie and Wide Bay rep in athletics, cricket and rugby league.
His agility on the field could well come in handy in public office, though Mr Curran said he was confident the new council was "a good mix of people who should be able to work together to progress the region".
The issues he saw as most significant in his division were high rates, a sound road maintenance and improvement program and upgrading the Southside sewerage network.
"Of course, there are the bigger issues for the region that include protecting our small business, and promoting growth in industry that will attract jobs and improve our employment statistics," he said.
Though Mr Curran enjoyed a rewarding career in the Queensland Police Service, he said he would be immediately negotiating to pare his police duties back to part-time.
He thanked Ms Neilson for her years of dedication to the region and said he hoped she would remain a prominent community leader.
Mr McDonald received an immediate, if somewhat challenging, welcome to office from Rainbow Beach business identity Ruth Modin, who said she would be holding him to the down-to-earth promises in his final election pamphlet last week.
"I think it changed a lot of people's vote," she said of the pamphlet, which promised practical help for the Cooloola Coast and its business community to recover from some "tough times".
"I welcome her challenge," he said of Ms Modin's pledge to hold him to commitments including "a marine research station off Fraser Island" and a "cessation of beach driving fees, shade over community playgrounds, low-maintenance beautification of the Rainbow Beach foreshore, a realistic strategic plan for Cooloola Cove, a future aged care facility, a fishing museum and legislation to permit dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay".
Mr Sachs was leading seven Division 4 candidates, but was less than halfway towards the 50% mark.