Dow challenged for seat, presidency

TEN CANDIDATES are contesting three council seats in one of the most keenly fought local shire elections in recent years.
The most talked about contest appears to be in the Toodyay townsite’s Central Ward (752 voters), where Shire President David Dow faces a strong challenge from newcomer Di Granger, with third candidate Linda Rooney a final-day nomination for the seat.
At least one new councillor will be elected after former East Ward Cr Kate Wood resigned last March when her family moved to Geraldton.
Cr Brian Rayner was re-elected for another four years as the only North Ward candidate when nominations closed last month.
The shire’s remaining 2575 registered voters have been sent election packages with ballot papers, candidates’ profiles and voting instructions in reply-paid envelopes to be mailed back and received by the WAEC Returning Officer by 6pm on Saturday October 21 or handed in to the shire office in Fiennes Street by 5pm the day before.
This will be Toodyay’s first postal ballot for a shire election and is being run by the WA Electoral Commission.
Previous council elections have been run by the shire with ‘in-person’ voting at polling stations on election day.
The change aims to increase voter participation, which was only 29.9 per cent at the last shire elections two years ago.
This month’s poll closes at 6pm on Saturday October 21, when votes will be counted at the Toodyay Shire Council chambers and the winners declared.
Voting is ‘first-past-the post’, with no opportunity to distribute preference votes where there are three or more candidates.
However, voters in East Ward – where there are two vacancies – will be asked to pick two candidates from a field of four.
Chitty says she’ll run for president if re-elected
UNLIKE in Federal and State elections, the absence of preferential voting in local government elections may favour President Dow by splitting his two opponents’ votes, a fact not lost on local poll strategists.
In East Ward where there are two vacancies (776 voters), Shire Deputy President Therese Chitty appears set to retain her seat, while Hoddys Well ratepayer Ben Bell is running a strong campaign to fill the second vacancy.
The two other East Ward candidates – Karyn Dymond and Tim Hale – are running low-key campaigns and seem unlikely to attract enough votes to gain a winning lead.
Karyn Dymond – who owns a property in town – is the only candidate registered at an address not in or near the boundary of the ward she is seeking to represent.
Cr Chitty has told a number of people that if re-elected she will run for shire president regardless of who wins Central Ward.
Councillors elect a president by a secret ballot held every two years after each election for half the seats on the nine-member council.
President Dow has told ratepayers he has “unfinished business” on the council which suggests that if re-elected, he will also contest the top job, to which he was re-elected unopposed two years ago.
In West Ward (1047 voters), Cr Paula Greenway from West Toodyay is widely seen by supporters as likely to retain her seat but faces a determined challenge from Morangup ratepayer Craig Brook, with Andrew Walker from Lovers Lane, Toodyay, also an outspoken contender.
As in Central Ward, first-past-the-post voting may favour Cr Greenway by splitting her opponents’ votes with no opportunity for those candidates to receive second preference votes.

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