RON Carige looks likely to be Banana Shire's new mayor thanks to a wave of support from Dawson Valley voters.
Late yesterday Goovigen Grazier Ron Carige was holding a 389-vote lead over Kym Mobbs in the ballot to be mayor of the shire and he is expected to be declared the new mayor this morning.
With 6882 votes counted from the 9340 enrolled voters, Mr Carige held 38.99% of the vote.
This put him well ahead of sitting Mayor John Hooper.
Cr Hooper polled poorly in areas outside of Biloela and was particularly on the nose with voters in the Dawson Valley, where he collected just 12.54% in Division 6 (Theodore, Taroom area) and 17.33% of the vote in Division 5 (Moura/Banana area).
When Central Telegraph spoke to Mr Carige yesterday morning he said he was comfortable but still wary.
"Certainly I am happy where I am," Mr Carige said.
"I would much rather be further in front.
"Someone told me yesterday I was on the home stretch and I'm a length in front so it's time to get the whip out."
Carige led the polls convincingly in Divisions 5 (Moura area) and 6 (Taroom area).
However, he said he felt the boundaries shouldn't be a major focus.
"I believe as mayor I am here to support everyone," Mr Carige said.
"The sad thing about an election is that it does divide people.
But Mr Carige did admit he felt he was able to meet a lot more people in the smaller towns.
He said he and his wife Ann had been spending the past poll-counting days taking some time out.
"It's been good to have a couple of days to recuperate," Mr Carige said.
Hooper leads the polls in Division 1 and 2 (Biloela areas) while Mobbs was favoured in Division 3 (Thangool area) and 4 (Dululu area).
It is interesting to note that in Division 3, where Mr Carige operates a grazing property, he failed to top the poll and in Division 4, where he used to live more than a decade ago, he finished on the bottom of the poll.
Central Telegraph phoned Cr Hooper and left messages on voicemail, but at the time of going to print had not received a response.
The only opposed councillor, Pat Brenner of Division 3, will be returning to the council chambers after he led a convincing win against Karen Bicknell with 65% of votes.
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