It took 17 days, but the results are in for the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) election.
Labor has taken home the most seats, followed by the Liberals and the independent Group F.
Bryce Wilson, Esma Livermore and John Preston will take their seats for the ALP, while the Liberals’ team will consist of Louise Burton and Jacqueline Ternouth.
Katrina Willis will represent the Greens.
Due to the flow of preferences, Steve Taskovski from Group D and Michele Biscotti from Group G scraped in without reaching the full quota.
Edwina Webster also scores a seat alongside her fellow group member Kenrick Winchester, making Group F the only independent group to win more than one seat.
The leader of the ticket for independent Group B, Mareeta Grundy, is also in.
The new QPRC council of 11 will be sworn in on 12 January 2022. This is also when they will elect a mayor and deputy mayor from their ranks. Their first meeting is yet to be announced but will be in February 2022.
The December ballot was the third election for the QPRC since the Palerang Shire merged with the City of Queanbeyan Council in 2016. The council term typically spans four years, but due to COVID-19 upsetting the routine, the next QPRC election will be held two and a half years from now in 2025.
Labor’s Mr Wilson says it’s clear the people have voted for change.
“There is no question that there has been quite a shift towards a more progressive council.”
He said Labor laid out what they wanted to do and will now set about working with the other members of the new council to make it happen.
“As best we can on a local level, we’re going to tackle some bigger macro policies such as housing affordability and climate action, but also improve how we work with the community.”
Kenrick Winchester led the ticket for Group F and said the election saw a swing towards political parties in general.
“People hadn’t heard of many of the candidates, so it seems that at the polling booth, they went the way they would have gone if it were any other state or federal election and voted for their favourite political party. Labor, Liberals, and even The Greens all performed strongly,” Mr Winshester said.
He said his group didn’t make too many promises, instead focusing on getting QPRC’s current financial situation under control.
“It will take considerable time and effort running through the budget, but we have a fresh, clean council – with no baggage – approaching it.”
In the lead up to election day, local social media and forums came alive with calls for improvements to basic council functions. These include the appalling state of many roads in the jurisdiction and the time it takes for development applications to be approved.
Frustration has also been building up about several issues in the regional reaches of the shire, such as a new cemetery in Burra, the high school in Bungendore and quarrying in Royalla.
Mr Winchester said he expects these issues to blow up fairly quickly when the council sits for the first time in the new year.