TOP CONTENDER: Farmer Ross Bartley is keen to throw his hat in the ring for deputy mayor as the top-polling councillor candidate.
TOP CONTENDER: Farmer Ross Bartley is keen to throw his hat in the ring for deputy mayor as the top-polling councillor candidate.

Top council candidates set to compete for deputy mayor role

THE top eight candidates for the Southern Downs Regional Council seems to be all but finalised, but the competition for the role of deputy mayor could be far from over.

The Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) is yet to formally declare the new council, however that hasn’t stopped several of the probable new councillors from throwing their hat in the ring to become new mayor Vic Pennisi’s second-in-command.

Former deputy mayor Ross Bartley, who was the frontrunner for the entirety of the vote count, said his win was a strong show of the Southern Downs community’s support for his campaign and capability as a councillor.

“It’s very humbling. (Voters) have indicated that they have put their faith in me by giving me a large number of votes, so it’s now my time to give back to them and take on this deputy’s role,” Mr Bartley said.

“There’s my level of experience, having been the deputy mayor before, and I think it’s only fair that because the mayor is based in Stanthorpe, it would be handy to have the deputy mayor in another large regional centre like Warwick.”

Incumbent councillor Cameron Gow said prior experience on the SDRC would equally qualify him for the deputy mayor role, but was hesitant to confirm.

“It’s humbling to be re-elected – this is coming into my fifth term as a councillor, between representing Stanthorpe as a shire and now the SDRC,” Mr Gow said.

“(The deputy mayor) is a democratic decision, and I’m looking forward to whatever decision the incoming council makes.

Wherever I end up, I’ll be looking forward to delivering whatever our community needs to make it the best we can.

While the coronavirus pandemic will mean significant changes to how the new council will be sworn in and operate, both top candidates agreed that it wouldn’t stop them or the other likely councillors from “getting on with the job”.

“I know all eight councillors are ready to work, get back in the saddle, and make sure the community is heading in the right direction,” Mr Bartley said.

“I look forward to the challenge of the new council, and to being community-connected with the people.”