ELECTION COVERAGE: Mayor candidate comments on early lead
COUNTING for the Western Downs Regional Council election began last night, and with less than half the votes counted, the race for the top position is very one-sided.
After 9413 (42.23%) votes counted, Paul McVeigh is pulling ahead with 6828 (73.51%) votes.
His opposition, Glenn Strandquist currently sits on 2460 (26.49%) votes.
Mr McVeigh said he is delighted with the way the results are shaping up and is grateful to the community for showing their support.
“The past few days I have really been able to reflect on the last four years that I’ve spent in council, and I’m looking forward to leading the community and fellow council members into the next four years,” he said.
“I’ve taken on a bit of a caretaker role this past month, so it will be terrific to get back in the driver’s seat and take control to help both our community and our council.”
With the COVID-19 restricting gatherings of large groups of people, this year’s celebrations were completely different than last for Mr McVeigh.
He spent last night at home with his wife celebrating with some wine, cheese and crackers.
The coronavirus also means that for the first few months as mayor, Mr McVeigh is going to face some challenges in the short term.
However, he is full of confidence that himself and the rest of the council will be able to handle it.
“We have worked hard over the past four years to create a strong council and no matter who is elected that’s not going to change,” he said.
“It may not be an ideal time to start, and things are going to be hard, but I look forward to leading everyone through this challenging time.
“We will continue to work on the current restrictions we have in place and encourage people to stay away from each other.
“As restrictions get tighter and the reality of a complete lockdown looms, if that were to happen, we will manage that as a council to help get the community to the other side.
“Right now it’s about focusing on the local businesses and what we can do to support them, doing all we can to keep the community safe and help everyone to get through this virus the best way we can.”
The council processes will look a little different this year, and they are currently working on ways to co-ordinate the swearing-in of the new council.
Instead of meeting at the board room, the council will be supporting the community through Skype, phone and emails.
“I can assure you will are very fortunate to have great technology to help us communicate and the new councillors will be able to be kept very well informed as will the rest of the community,” Mr McVeigh said.
“It will be hard for me as I’m such a people person and love visiting, engaging and seeing their reactions.
“Things are going to be different, but we are well equipped to see the council and the community go from strength to strength,”
Results are still yet to be finalised, and more information will become available as election officials continue to count votes later today.