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22 July, 2021

Division 6 hangs in the balance

THERE is usually a collective sigh of relief when an election campaign concludes.

By Peter McCullagh

Renee McLeod Division 6 candidate PHOTO: Peter McCullagh

Voters feel a sense of release from the constant social media bombardment as well as the urban pollution caused by hundreds of candidate’s signs.

The candidates face an agonising period of uncertainty as votes are tallied and the result becomes clearer.

Voters turned out in Innisfail last Saturday for the Division 6 By-election to appoint a replacement for ex-councillor Kylie Farinelli.

A large field contested this election. Seven candidates nominated. Preliminary counting along with first preference allocation has commenced with more than 2,300 votes counted.

Two candidates were clear runners to take the division. Cassowary Coast Regional Council employee, Harry Tenni is locked in a tight tussle with Innisfail businesswoman Renee McLeod.

McLeod holds a slender lead of 115 votes over Tenni. The remainder of the field are scattered behind, in some cases polling a few as family and close friends.

The election was not without spite, with several candidates targeting Tenni and attempting to blacken his reputation as a Council employee. One social media group, acting as a campaign broadcaster for two candidates posted constantly urging voters to cast their vote in favour of their chosen candidates.

Front runner Renee McLeod in her first campaign felt that overall, it was a rather ‘dirty’ campaign conducted through social media.

“In the end residents voted for someone local, that they will see at the local shops on the weekend. Someone accessable and someone they can see and speak to when they have an issue.

“Obviously all the votes are not counted, so I will not count my chickens until they hatch, but I’m excited,” she said.

East Innisfail resident Harry Tenni, contesting the division for the second time, after he finished runner-up to Kylie Farinelli, who resigned forcing the by-election was disappointed with the result.

“In the end, it’s not your skill or knowledge, it’s a popularity contest.

“I’ve been in Council for 10 years and can see what needs to change.

“The community is not getting what they pay for, why are we paying for more executives, when we need more ground workers,” he said.

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