Abb McAlister sews up more than 1200 votes

WHO WILL IT BE: 28 candidates are being whittled down to nine councillors as CGRC vote counting continues.
WHO WILL IT BE: 28 candidates are being whittled down to nine councillors as CGRC vote counting continues.

Counting is continuing in the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council race with former Gundagai mayor Abb McAlister still leading the way on 1206 first preference votes. 

He is followed by Doug Phillips, another former mayor, this time from Cootamundra, who has notched up 660 votes. 

As of Thursday afternoon 7329 first preference votes had been counted out of a possible 8594 people enrolled to vote. 

Mr McAlister is hopeful his former Gundagai Shire sidekick, deputy mayor David Graham will also be elected to the new council. 

If preferences fall in their favour, the Gundagai group could have up to four candidates obtain a place on council.

A final result may not be known until this Saturday, September 16. 

Mr McAlister is happy with the mix of councillors in the running, telling the Cootamundra Herald this week, he is confident everyone can work together for the benefit of the combined Local Government Area. 

“It can be a good council,” he said. 

His first port of call with his position sewn up on council will be to look at the figures. 

“There has not been a lot of communication over the past 18 months,” Mr McAlister said. 

“We need to get in and find out where finances are up to; we also need to work out what the backlog is and where money will need to be spent,” he continued. 

Mr McAlister expressed his surprise at the high number of first preference votes he received, but said he has always stood by the fact he did not think the amalgamation should take place; a stance many people in the combined communities agreed with. 

While his preference is for Gundagai to stand alone, Mr McAlister said he is realistic about the current position. 

“We need to work together and we need to work with what has been thrust upon us,” Mr McAlister said. 

It is expected a Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council meeting will be held next week to determine a mayor and deputy mayor to lead the new council. 

Mr Phillips has confirmed he will throw his hat in the ring for both positions, while Mr McAlister, despite his obvious popularity, could not be drawn on his intentions regarding mayoral ambition this week. 

He said he is, as yet, undecided. 

Other front-runners as vote counting continues include Charlie Sheahan with 429 votes, Gil Kelly 379 votes, David Graham 276 votes, Leigh Bowden 274 votes, Penny Nicholson 263 votes and Amy Turner 231 votes.

Group B, led by Dennis Palmer, received 497 above the line votes, likely granting Mr Palmer a council seat.