Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News
Patrick Ross has stormed to victory as Naracoorte Lucindale Council’s provisionally elected new mayor and says “thank you” to all residents and ratepayers of the district.
The overwhelming result in favour of Mr Ross as a result of the November 10 council election saw him easily surpass the 1761 vote quota with 2111 votes – or 60 per cent of the votes cast.
The former mayor for 12 years and a council member for 22 years, Erika Vickery, received 1409 votes. Seven votes were informal in the final 3520 ballot papers.
As a result, she also lost her new job as president of the Local Government Association of SA, to which she nominated three months ago and was elected by 38 of the 63 councils that voted in October.
The LGA board will appoint one of its members from the SA Regional Organisation of Councils committee to act as State president for the next two years.
Mrs Vickery was contacted for comment at the same time as Mr Ross, but did not respond before deadline for press.
Mr Ross said: “I’d like to thank the residents and ratepayers of our council for giving me the opportunity to take our community on a new journey of local government within the district.
“I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding work of Erika Vickery on her long career in local government, including her various roles on many other boards and committees.
“She has overseen many projects, completed during her time in local government, in the Naracoorte Lucindale Council.
“We all wish Erika and (her husband) Neville good health into the future.”
At the time of deadline for press, Mr Ross confirmed he had not yet received the usual courtesy call to concede defeat from Mrs Vickery.
Mr Ross, a Woolumbool farmer and Lucindale group officer and CFS leader, said he was aware four councillors had each reached the required quota of 316 votes and he congratulated each of them, along with those yet to be elected.
He believed all of the 16 candidates were exceptional people and he felt disappointed for those who had put up their hand but would miss out on filling the 10 positions.
Those who had reached their quota before “The News” deadline included Cr Cameron Grundy with a thumping 516 votes – 200 above quota.
Sitting for his fifth term on council, Cr Craig McGuire lost 245 votes from his 2018 top position, but he still managed to receive 400 votes – 84 above quota.
Sitting at the top of the ballot paper in number one spot, Cr Tom Dennis received 337 votes – an increase of 168 since 2018. Cr Monique Crossling pulled in 332 votes, increasing her numbers by 35 since 2018. The other six councillors to be elected will be relying on preferences which were expected to be known late yesterday, Tuesday, November 15 – after this paper is printed.
Cr Grundy thanked all those who voted for him and said: “I find that (highest vote) both humbling and reassuring.”
“I look forward to working constructively with all aspects of the new council however it is made up, including our new mayor, new councillors and the administration.”
Following the first round of counting before preferences, the amount of number one votes by each of the remaining candidates includes: Dr Abigail Goodman – 247, Cr Damien Ross – 213, Cr Trevor Rayner 212, Andrew “Crash” Downward – 178, Julie Earl – 159, Peter Ireland – 158, Peter “Huck” Shepherd 155, Danielle Moore – 140, Darren Turner – 140, Toby Robinson – 107, Ken Banning – 98 and Derek James – 77.
Scrutineer for councillor candidates David Hood described the vote counting by the council’s electoral commission returning officer Paul McRostie and a team of council staff as “exceptional”.
Mr Hood, a former mayor, said it took over eight hours, starting at 9am with the mayoral count first, then the councillors.
“The whole team did a very good job in what was a really long day,” he said.
Mr Hood said there was not one dispute with any ballot paper.
Fellow scrutineer Paul Dolan praised “the very good team of people” who spent the day counting votes, stating they were “well organised and very proficient”.
The mayoral candidate scrutineer for Patrick Ross was Rob Mutton.
He congratulated Mr Ross and said the 60-40 result was very conclusive and it was an exciting time for the district.
Mr Mutton praised Mr McRostie and all of the council staff involved with the count for their efficiency and professionalism, and said “the hard work now begins for Patrick”.
“The disappointing part of the process is that a very experienced person (Erika) is now leaving council. Under the Victorian system, that would not happen because the councillors elect the mayor themselves.
“So, under the Victorian system, you get all the benefits of a new mayor with fresh ideas, but you keep the knowledge base in the council.”
Mayoral candidate scrutineer for Mrs Vickery was Geraldine Mathieson, who commended and thanked Mrs Vickery “for her tireless work for the Naracoorte Lucindale community”.
“As a councillor since 2000 and mayor since 2010, her representation of our community and for our community has been excellent,” Ms Mathieson said.
“She has been integral in our reputation throughout State and local government organisations.
“She has worked above and beyond her role as a councillor and our mayor, being a founding member of the Naracoorte and Lucindale Community Care Network and the Limestone Coast Multicultural Network, and many other support services.
“As a member of the board of the Australian Migrant Resource Centre, she has seen this integral resource grow in our community for our community.”
Ms Mathieson also praised Mr McRostie and the election team “for their highly organised and professional work”.
This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.