'Nervous' wait for young Livingstone contender as margin slims
UPDATE: THE numbers have been crunched, with 70.95 per cent of Livingstone Shire's postal votes leaning further towards Yeppoon surf coach, Pat Eastwood, as of 2.18pm yesterday afternoon.
Now 113 votes behind Mr Eastwood, law student, Alana Murray, is eagerly awaiting next Tuesday's final tally.
"There's an estimated 600 postal votes still to come in, and with 319 being covered already and having already halved my margin, I'm very excited and quietly hopeful," Ms Murray said.
"But if I've learned anything over the last few weeks it's that you never know what way it will go, so it's better to be humble and enjoy the experience and not be too anxious.
"Pat is a very good contender and has the advantage of having run before and being a runner up previously.
"But I've kept my ears to the ground and been engaging with the community and talking with them, and my message seems to have resonated with them."
When Ms Murray saw how close the margin was becoming between herself and Mr Eastwood yesterday morning, she began to feel "nervous" and realised that the race was not over just yet.
"I'm humbled that the votes are so close," she said.
"I'll not be surprised if I make the top four due to the overwhelming support and backing the community have given me.
"At the start, I was a little hesitant to put my hand up and was expecting a lot more criticism [due to my age] but after talking with me even the most aggressive anti-voters came back and said they voted for me.
"There's a common misconception that the elders are always the wise ones in the community rather than the young ones... I surround myself with older people with aspirations and learn from them and their mistakes and strengths and try to imitate that."
Current Poll Results:
1. Pat Eastwood: 3514.
2. Alana Murray: 3401.
3. Rhodes Watson: 3087.
4. Lou Shipway: 1987.
5. Ben Weston: 1944.
6. Bernadette Melrose: 1102.
7. Jo Stoyel: 689.
8. Murray Smith: 601.
9. Heath Henwood: 559.
10. Julie Martin: 320.
11. Terry Arnold: 299.
INITIAL STORY, MONDAY: FIRST-time contender Alana Murray is closing the gap between herself and Livingstone Council by-election front-runner Pat Eastwood.
With postal votes to be counted over the next week, the by-election to fill former councillor Graham Scott's position is still anyone's race.
Yesterday the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) announced Yeppoon surfing coach Mr Eastwood was 232 votes ahead of law student Ms Murray, 21.
With 70.76% of the roll counted, Ms Murray had closed the gap to just 105 votes as of 1.52pm yesterday.
With 29.24 per cent of the votes still to be counted before Tuesday March 27 postal vote cut-off, Livingstone Shire will be waiting another week before the successful candidate is announced.
As the top contenders emerge, two candidates have graciously conceded defeat, congratulating their fellow council hopefuls.
Candidate Murray Smith submitted a letter to the editor yesterday to thank the "600 or so people" that had voted for him thus far, as well as the other candidates who have become Mr Smith's "friends for life".
"I am humbled by your support and promise to keep up the fight for the next two years and come back much bigger and stronger in 2020," Mr Smith said.
"I've spoken with Pat Eastwood and offered my heartfelt congratulations, pending the return of the postal vote of course.
"I truly hope Pat can rise up to the numerous challenges that the Livingstone Shire currently faces. He will have a very full two years before the next election.
"To all the other candidates... you are a calibre all of your own. To have 10 people who care enough about what is happening in this shire, to stand up and take a stand gives me heart that there can be a silver lining."
Candidate Jo Stoyl also reached out to thank Livingstone for the support she has received and to praise the other candidates who each "brought something that this community needs" and were "fantastic to get to know and work alongside".
Despite Mr Smith's early congratulations to Mr Eastwood, it could still be too soon to name either front runner as the reigning winner.
The Morning Bulletin has approached Mr Eastwood and Ms Murray for comment.
Current Poll Results 1. Pat Eastwood: 20.07% 2. Alana Murray: 19.47% 3. Rhodes Watson: 17.59% 4. Lou Shipway: 11.38% 5. Ben Watson: 11.11% 6. Bernadette Melrose: 6.28% 7. Jo Stoyel: 3.95% 8. Murray Smith: 3.44% 9. Heath Henwood: 3.19% 10. Julie Martin: 1.81% 11. Terry Arnold: 1.71%