BREAKING: SDRC election results officially declared
THE results of the Southern Downs Regional Council have officially been declared by the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) after two weeks.
The eight councillors representing the region for the next four years will be Ross Bartley, Cameron Gow, Jo McNally, Andrew Gale, Sheryl Windle, Marco Gliori, Cynthia McDonald, and Stephen Tancred.
They will join mayor-elect Vic Pennisi in a relatively new council, with only three incumbent councillors being re-elected for this next term in Cr Gow, Cr McNally, and Cr Windle.
Former deputy mayor Cr Bartley, who carved out and maintained a substantial 1100-vote lead over Cr Gow in second place, said he was thrilled that the results were finally declared.
"We need to move forward and start delivering for the people. This election has been a contracted episode under especially difficult circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic," Cr Bartley said.
"I think congratulations are in order for the ECQ officials here in Warwick, they did everything the best they could under very difficult circumstances."
Cr Bartley said he expected the new council to be sworn in the immediate future, but said it would likely be via phone due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures.
"The new method will be difficult, especially for some of the new councillors who are about to take office for the first time, and I feel for the people who have been deprived of that experience," he said.
Fellow councillor-elect Stephen Tancred, who had the tightest contest for the eighth and final council position, took to social media to express his gratitude for the Southern Downs community's support.
"I am very humbled and proud to receive the support of my community to serve as a Southern Downs councillor," Cr Tancred wrote.
"We have four years to manage the region and it's important we set ourselves up with open, fair, transparent procedures and policies from the get-go.
The Mayor and Councillors are a team of nine, and I will value the experience of the three councillors who were re-elected."
Cr Bartley reiterated the importance of the new council "getting on with the job" and tackling the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the region as urgently as possible.
"I feel for the community who are so wound down at the moment - there's nobody out on the main streets, and it's symbolic of what's happening across our nation," he said.
"We're living in changing and historic times, and we can only hope they improve.
As a local government, we have a pivotal role to play in a recovery process once we get through this, and we need to support our entire community however we can."