Denmark count had its moments

By Beverley Ford

THE election count at the shire administration centre on Saturday night October 19 was filled with drama and quite a bit of angst.

When the evening began the room was full of candidates, scrutineers and supporters to witness the count.

The first sign of trouble was when the West Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC) computer program which tracks and checks the physical count had a problem communicating with the shire’s Windows 10 operating system.

Electoral Commission staff in blue and scrutineers in yellow. John Sampson (pictured on right) was supporting Geoff Bowley.

The first result was in Kent/Nornalup ward, which saw popular sitting councillor Janine Phillips returned with nearly 60 percent of the vote which was 374 votes.

Cr Phillips said that she was pleased to be able to continue her work supporting the residents of the western end of the shire, which she has done with energy over the past three years, and expressed her thanks to those who turned out to vote.

Janine Phillips with sons Ryan and Brodey

The Town and Scotsdale/Shadforth counts were postponed when one of the laptops being used to tally the votes did not correctly forward the full count to the WAEC, due to the Windows bug.

Town ward was declared around 10pm, with sitting councillor and shire president Ceinwen Gearon returned with a slim majority over first-time candidate Geoff Bowley.

Voting was 358 votes to 349.

Both will assume four-year terms.

Newly elected Town Ward Councilor, Geoff Bowley

Former councillor Kelli Gillies, who resigned mid-term in 2016, forcing a by-election, was unsuccessful, garnering only 272 votes, ahead of young newcomer Nelson Blake Gilmour who polled well with 247 votes in his first attempt, followed by ex-councillor Clem Wright 156 and Michael Cranny 98.

In Scotsdale/Shadforth the drama continued, with what had appeared to be a result discovered to represent only a fraction of the total votes counted.

With much head shaking, staring at computer screens and even a recount, the final result was declared around 11.45pm.

Cr’s Kingsley Gibson and Ceinwen Gearon had a great reaction to the results.

First-time candidate Steve Jones, a retired businessman and chairman of the Agricultural College board posted a commanding lead with 587 votes, followed by sitting councillors Kingsley Gibson with 475 and Jan Lewis with 453.

Mr Jones and Cr Gibson will serve until October 2023, and Cr Lewis until 2021.

“We have only been in Denmark for five years, so it has been humbling that the voters have put their faith in me,” Mr Jones said after the final count.

“The electoral process is quite confronting, so I would like to congratulate all candidates for offering to serve their community.”

Steve and Esther Jones at the count.

The unsuccessful candidates in Scotsdale/ Shadforth were past councillor Belinda Rowland with 421 and first-time candidates Ken Court and Richard Winter, on 366 and 273 respectively.

Cr Gearon congratulated Crs Lewis, Phillips and Gibson on being re-elected, and welcomed new councillors Geoff Bowley and Steve Jones to the team. She said that it was a strong team which would effectively manage matters in the best interests of the community and in line with the Community Strategic Plan.

By the time the final declaration was made by returning officer Heather Marr the crowd had thinned to only a few candidates.

Election night 2019 will be remembered for its longevity and hiccups as much as for the results, and an outstanding overall 52.17 percent of voters choosing to use their democratic privilege.

(A special council meeting to induct councillors, and elect a shire president and deputy president, was scheduled on Tuesday, after The Voice had been printed. We wish all councillors who aspire to leadership well in their pursuit of office. – Ed)

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