Small towns have made their presence felt after the first flush of counting in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council election.
Just over 10,200 of yesterday’s votes have been counted at this point, with 11 new councillor positions to be decided from a field of 27 candidates.
Former Bombala Mayor and grazier Bob Stewart has polled the most votes with 1,447, followed by Adaminaby livestock carrier, Lynley Miners (1,364), and 23-year-old apprentice carpenter James ‘Boo’ Ewart from Jerangle (948).
Former Cooma – Monaro Mayor, Dean Lynch who has over seen the operations of the merged council for the last 16 months as Administrator says he’s happy to see the election come and democracy restored to the region.
“My biggest concern was representation for the smaller areas, and you can see that’s not going to be an issue now,” Mr Lynch says.
“I am a little bit worried about the lack of female representation in the results at this stage,” he says.
Bombala’s Anne Maslin is the highest polling woman with 243 votes which puts her in thirteenth position over all – outside the 11 member council.
Postal votes and preferences will come before the poll is declared and the final results are known.
Under the counting system used for local government elections in New South Wales, each candidate must reach a quota of votes to be elected, preferences follow and are distributed according to the voter’s instructions on their ballot paper.
“You get the total number of voters and then dived it by 12, one more than the new Council needs, to work out the quota,” Mr Lynch explains.
“Going off previous elections I think the quota will be around 930 votes.”
Preferences help candidates who don’t reach the quota in the first round of counting get elected.
Bob Stewart believes it might not be until Tuesday or Wednesday before all 11 seats in the new chamber are decided, he is hopeful a flow of preferences from himself and running mate John Last will get Anne Maslin elected.
Mr Stewart, a passionate critic of the merger process says he is humbled by his result and is looking forward to getting back to work.
“I will be putting my hand up for the Mayoral position,” Mr Stewart says.
“We’ve gotta make sure there’s equity down our way, the merger process for council staff in Bombala has been very unfair.”
“We don’t need it [Council] to be centralised towards Cooma so that Bombala loses out on jobs, we must try and protect jobs for the social and economic benefit of our smaller communities,” the former Bombala Mayor says.
Mr Stewart says he is also keen to address recent extra charges on utility costs like water and waste, he says he’ll be asking for a report to Council early in the term.
Speaking to About Regional while loading livestock on to his truck, Lynley Miners has mixed feelings about being elected to Council.
“The truth is I didn’t want to stand now, I am too busy with my own business, but now is the logical time, it’s a fresh start being the first council,” Mr Miners says.
Being a truckie, Mr Miners says he’ll be taking a particular interest in the region’s roads and better infrastructure.
“A lot people think we are going to be able to fix theses things over night,” Mr Miners says.
“We’ve got a three-year term and the first 12 or 18 months will be taken up with learning and trying to get sorted with whats been done during the administration period and get the ship steering straight.”
Despite his high personal vote Mr Miners says he won’t be standing as Mayor in the near future, preferring to leave the job to people with more time and experience for now.
When asked to reflect on the merger process between Bombala, Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River Shires, Mr Miners is hopeful people can move on
“It will hang there for a bit, but once people get to the table if they want to strive to make this better, it can’t be about us and them, it’s done, it’s happened, it’s time to move on,” Mr Miners says.
Dean Lynch will remain Administrator until the first council meeting on September 26 when the new Mayor is elected, says he has been working hard to tidy up loose ends and set the new council up for success.
The election marks an end to Mr Lynch’s nine-year career in local government, he says the last 16 months have been some of the most challenging times.
“I always knew pulling this together would be a poison chalice, but I love local government and I love this area,” he says.
“Some of the social media comments have been hard for my family but I’ll stand behind all the decisions I made, I feel like I’ve given the new council every chance possible to be good.”
Mr Lynch is delighted James ‘Boo’ Ewart appears to have been elected.
“Boo has been around Council meetings with me for the last four years, he’s always wanted to be on Council, it’s great to see him get in without the need for any alliances, a fresh start is just what this council needs,” Mr Lynch says.
“The new council needs to get out and meet with communities right around the area
“My advice for the old and the new, they just need to get around and meet everybody before they rush in and make decisions,” Mr Lynch says.
When asked about his future, the former Cooma-Monaro Mayor says they’ll be a holiday with his wife first.
“The most exciting thing, I am the chair and a director of the Country Universities Centre and we are rolling those out right across the state at the moment, that’s my passion.
“I’ve had various offers, but I just need to take a step back for a while,” Mr Lynch says.
To keep track of the progressive election results head to the website of the NSW Electoral Commission.
*Thanks to About Regional members, Simon Marine, Kelly Murray, Gabrielle Powell, Nastasia Campanella and Thomas Oriti for supporting local story telling.