You're Joe-king: Ex-mayor tipped to win prestigious seat
A SHOCK return to public office is shaping up for ex-Maroochy Shire mayor Joe Natoli, with former Wallabies coach John Connolly admitting he's all but done in Division 4.
"I think I'm dusted," Cr Connolly told the Daily late Monday afternoon.
The Electoral Commission Queensland's live tally room showed Cr Connolly trailing by about 300 votes late yesterday, after 40.84 per cent of votes were counted.
The Daily understood the gap may have been closer to 500 votes in real-time, with postal votes still to be counted.
Cr Connolly said he wasn't in a position to concede just yet, but admitted he faced a tough battle to pull back the difference with only about 2500 postal votes expected.
Mr Natoli campaigned hard on a lifestyle ticket, vowing to fight against paid parking in the electorate, and finding a way to stem the tide of rapid development across the region.
It clearly resonated with some, which came as a surprise, in one of the more developed divisions on the Coast.
Cr Connolly said he thought the paid parking attacks had hurt him, but said he didn't expect Mr Natoli to have been his main rival, having tipped Buddina local Todd Forrest to be more of a factor in the race.
"It is what it is," Cr Connolly said.
"The fat lady's more than humming, she's starting to sing."
Cr Connolly was matter of fact about what was unfolding, and said he'd been proud of the work the council had been able to carry out in progressing a number of major projects in the electorate, including the Brisbane Road Carpark and Mooloolaba foreshore placemaking, as well as Brisbane Rd widening.
It could be another week or more before the final result was known, with postal, phone and other absentee votes still to be counted.
Mr Natoli said his team ran an "exhaustive' six-week campaign and had to shift tactics when Mr Forrest and Julian Porter confirmed they'd preference each other.
Mr Natoli said from that moment he knew he had to run a first-past-the-post style campaign, to take on Cr Connolly head-on.
"That's what the election turned out to be," Mr Natoli said.
He said his previous campaign experience had helped, particularly his gruelling battle against Bob Abbot for the mayoralty of an amalgamated council.
Mr Natoli said he would be back to work at Kunara Organic Marketplace on Tuesday, having spent Monday collecting his election signs from around the electorate, while he awaited the result.