Northern Rivers, meet your mayors
THREE cheers are in order for three new mayors who declared victory yesterday.
Phillip Silver became Ballina's first popularly-elected mayor, Jan Barham extended The Greens' hold in Northern NSW by returning to the position in Byron Bay, and veteran councillor and former mayor Col Sullivan won the race in Richmond Valley.
The closest of the three races was run in the Ballina Shire, with Cr Silver collecting 9827 votes, 52 per cent of the count, after the distribution of preferences.
The result saw Cr Silver across the line 776 votes in front of Cr Sharon Cadwallader, who ended up with 9051 votes, or 48 per cent of the count.
After the counting of first preference votes, Cr Silver led Cr Cadwallader by 1251 votes, but with 7765 primary votes, Cr Silver had only secured 34 per cent of the total votes.
Yesterday, Cr Silver said he was 'thrilled' to have a won a four-year term. “I am particularly gratified by the primary vote I received,” Cr Silver said.
“The popular mayor election was a new dynamic, and I am now looking forward to a fresh council with a number of new members.”
Cr Silver said that the four-year mayoral term would help the council in setting longer-term goals and strategies and his primary goal was to 'provide fair and equitable chairmanship'.
He also congratulated Cr Cadwallader on a hard-fought campaign and thanked his family and friends for their support during what was a stressful time.
Meanwhile, Cr Cadwallader said the result sent a 'clear message' to Cr Silver that voters hadn't been completely satisfied with his leadership style over the past six years he had been mayor.
She said she was happy she had 'shaken his tree', and helped make the election one of the more exciting in recent times.
In the Byron Shire, with 16,000 mayoral votes counted, Jan Barham had 47 per cent of the votes, her closest rival being Ross Tucker, who had 30 per cent of the vote.
Cr Barham, who is a member of The Greens, said she was 'ecstatic' and 'proud' the people of Byron had put their faith in her to lead them for the next four years.
“I'll be having a glass of champagne to celebrate tonight, maybe two,” she said.
The impressive growth of The Greens' vote in the region also surprised Cr Barham, who received a call from Greens Leader Bob Brown on Saturday night.
“He had seen the results coming in on the web and was pretty happy,” she said.
“There have been a lot of scaremongering tactics about the Greens, but when people get to deal with us at a local level they realise we are very hardworking and have a broad platform.”
Byron United president Ed Ahern said he welcomed any opportunity to engage with the incumbent mayor and councillors to ensure prosperity in the region.
“On behalf of Byron United, I congratulate Mayor Jan Barham and all returning and newly-elected councillors,” Mr Ahern said.
“In the next four years we hope to see a lot more action - and a lot less rhetoric.”
In Richmond Valley, despite previously being mayor of a newly-amalgamated council in 2000, Col Sullivan said he was a little nervous about the role.
“I'm proud to be elected,” he said.
“However, it's a mixed emotion because I know it's such a huge responsibility.”
Cr Sullivan, who has been involved in local government for 34 years, outpolled incumbent mayor Charlie Cox by more than 2400 votes after preferences were distributed.
He also was more than 2000 votes clear of local government debutante Donella Kinnish, who recorded an impressive 3628 votes after preferences.
Incumbent deputy mayor Robert Mustow polled 2446 votes and was the first to be knocked out of the preference count.