Wilkinson, Barnes in danger

Cr Mary Wilkinson says Bundaberg Regional Council is probably one of the best in Queensland for what it has achieved since amalgamation.
Cr Mary Wilkinson says Bundaberg Regional Council is probably one of the best in Queensland for what it has achieved since amalgamation. Max Fleet

LONG-TIME councillors Mary Wilkinson and Greg Barnes could lose their divisions, as counting in the local government elections shows they are in the greatest danger.

The remaining four councillors who sat in contested divisions - Alan Bush, Wayne Honor, Danny Rowleson and Ross  Sommerfeld - have strong leads as counting halts for the evening.

Cr Wilkinson, who has served for 17 years on both Bundaberg city and regional councils, is trailing Vince Habermann in Division 4.

With 65.8% of the vote counted, Mr Habermann has a strong lead with 43.1%, ahead of Cr Wilkinson on 27.9%, Tom Head on 20.4% and Bradley Rowe on 8.6%.

But Mr Habermann wasn't confident enough to claim victory tonight, saying pre-polls, postal votes and votes cast from other Bundaberg region divisions were still to come in.

But the NewsMail sports editor, who was just pipped for election in 2008 by Lynne Forgan, said the numbers were looking a little more favourable for him this time around.

"Last time, I'd only won the primary by 100 and ended up being beaten on preferences by about 100," Mr Habermann said.

"This time I've got a bit more breathing space.

"I'd never count my chickens before they're hatched, but it's a good lead."

In Division 5, the race is closer with 44.44% of the vote counted, but retired teacher Kerry Short is just ahead of incumbent councillor Greg Barnes, with 42.1% of the vote so far compared with 36.8%.

Mr Short, who had gathered at the Bargara Golf Club with family, friends and supporters, said he was pleased with campaign he had run but knew there was still a lot of counting to go yet, with up to 1800 pre-polls anticipated.

"I didn't know what to expect, but a lot of people were saying they wanted change," he said.

"I'm really happy with where I am."

Cr Barnes, who has served on Burnett Shire and Bundaberg Regional councils for 12 years, said he was disappointed with the numbers so far but he wasn't giving up yet.

"It's all up in the air, and we always knew it was going to be a close call," he said.

"Kerry was always going to be a strong candidate and at this stage I think the counting will go through until Monday.

"The race is run and at this stage I'm behind, but it's certainly not finished."

Topics:  council elections 2012

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