'Lottery' for final spot

MYSTERY is likely to remain until late this week on which candidate will take the position of Tweed's seventh councillor, with a complicated process of counting preferences underway.

Still in the running are: Kevin Skinner, the leader of Group A on the ballot paper and Chinderah motel owner; Phil Youngblutt, the leader of Group B and president of Murwillumbah and District Business Chamber; Tania Murdock, the Group F leader and president of Pottsville Beach Business Association; Lindy Smith, an anti-Tugun bypass campaigner and number two running mate in Dot Holdom's Group H.

In the past the results for the final councillor positions have been described as "a lottery" due to the complicated counting process.

That will be carried out by the NSW Electoral Commission in Sydney.

The stunning performance of the Greens and candidates seen as supportive of the Greens has left conservative candidates reeling.

Liberal Party leader Joan van Lieshout yesterday summed up many candidates feelings saying: "I'm surprised at the high Green vote".

"It's a bit of a shock to most people on the conservative side," Mrs van Lieshout said. "That's a little bit concerning because of the lack of economic growth ability."

She said it was particularly important that good economic policies be followed and "very good decisions are made for Murwillumbah's business centre".

Mrs van Lieshout said she would use the best of her negotiation and conflict resolution skills to work well with a green-leaning majority.

"I think it will be very interesting and challenging," she said.

A huge number of people, possibly as many as 10,000 out of 57,483 eligible voters, may not have even turned up to vote while 7.8 per cent of votes counted so far were informal.

Likely councillor Barry Longland welcomed the Greens result.

"Good on them. They obviously picked the mood of the people," he said.

The single "ungrouped" candidates, have as in past council elections, struggled to get even half a quota of votes required for election between all six of them.

Former director of Gales Holdings which wants to build a regional shopping centre at Chinderah, Harry Segal, ran one of the most expensive campaigns but attracted just 848 first preference votes. That compared to Murwillumbah identity and car dealer Phil Taylor who won 811 first preference votes with a "budget campaign".

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