Gympie Regional Council candidate hopefuls Jess Milne and Mark McDonald
Gympie Regional Council candidate hopefuls Jess Milne and Mark McDonald

Candidates face nervous wait in Division 1 thriller

JUST 11 votes separated them as of Tuesday afternoon, but neither incumbent Mark McDonald or challenger Jess Milne were giving much away as the race for Gympie’s Division 1 seat continues.

Mr McDonald sat just barely ahead on 1050 votes so far according to the Electoral Commission Queensland’s preliminary count, with Ms Milne hot on his heels with 1039 votes.

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Philip Feldman (463 votes) and Ash Little (337) looked well and truly out of the race.

Mr McDonald said he was “patient” in waiting for confirmation of the result, and had experienced slow counts before.

Council Meeting – Mark McDonald. Picture: Shane Zahner
Council Meeting – Mark McDonald. Picture: Shane Zahner

“The count doesn’t finish until April 7 so it’s got a lot of legs, but we should get closer in the next couple of days, we’ll know more when the bulk of the postals come in,” he said.

“You’ve got to be guarded, I’ve got absolutely no idea as to … preferentials, so we’ll see what the postals bring.”

The incumbent deflected questions on how he was feeling about the progress results and how they compared to his pre-election thoughts, instead saying it was not the time for him to “cast judgement”.

When asked about fellow incumbent Dan Stewart’s thoughts on “councillors seen to support (former mayor Mick Curran)” losing votes at the polls, Mr McDonald said he would “leave it to Councillor Stewart to discuss”.

“Elections are for people to cast their judgment, it’s not for me to cast judgment on people for how they vote,” Mr McDonald said.

“When you sit in this position you sit in preparation for judgment so that’s all there is to it.”

Ms Milne said she was happy to be so close to the pole position, describing the count so far as a “nailbiter”.

Jess Milne.
Jess Milne.

“What will happen will happen and I’ll just keep working towards the best for the community, that’s what I want to do,” she said.

“It’s too close to have emotion, it’s exciting that I’m this close, I’ve worked hard for it and I’m excited that I am this close to the incumbent, and the votes will tell us at the end of the day.

“If I don’t get it this time, I’ll just go again. Whether I’m the incumbent or I’m challenging I’ll go again.”