Southern Downs mayoral candidate Vic Pennisi earlier today. Picture: Matthew Purcell
Southern Downs mayoral candidate Vic Pennisi earlier today. Picture: Matthew Purcell

NEW: Councillor vote split, Pennisi with commanding lead

LATEST 7AM:

With almost 80 per cent of the vote counted, mayoral candidate and councillor Vic Pennisi has a commanding leading over Tracy Dobie with 44.68 per cent of the vote or 8607 votes compared to Dobie's 36.17 per cent or 6968 votes.

Peter Kemp has 14.29 per cent of the vote.

A large field of more than 25 chasing councillor positions has none achieving eight per cent in their own right.

CARRICK, Marion   859 3.11
TANCRED, Stephen   1185 4.29
GRANT, Greg   1027 3.72
CABEZAS, Paola   716 2.59
MCDONALD, Cynthia   1373 4.97
MCNALLY, Jo   1451 5.26
JENSEN, Michael Damian   1116 4.04
LAWS, Sue   993 3.6
HARROLD, Amanda Joy   986 3.57
GREENE-GALLOWAY, Jenn   685 2.48
GLIORI, Marco   1176 4.26
ETTERY, Robert   672 2.43
MARSDEN, Barbara   751 2.72
WANTLING, Russell   1188 4.3
GOW, Cameron   1304 4.72
KEOGH, Julia   1251 4.53
JOHNSON, Gregory Glenn   544 1.97
STOCKS, Yve   1027 3.72
KELLY, Rod   1136 4.12
BARTLEY, Ross   1497 5.42
MCNICHOL, Marika   981 3.55
HUNTER, Max   897 3.25
CHRISTENSEN, Scott   828 3
GALE, Andrew   1320 4.78
REES, Glyn   1288 4.67
WINDLE, Sheryl   1349 4.89

10PM:

IT'S too close to call who will win the mayoral vote for the Southern Downs Regional Council, according to front runner Vic Pennisi.

With postal and telephone votes yet to be counted, the mayoral hopeful said he won't claim anything yet.

"I'm not going to say anything at this stage but it will be hard to peg that back," Pennisi said.

"The trend is your friend."

Pennisi attributed his surge in popularity to his election promise to bring the council "back to the people".

"At every level of government, in my view, we have disconnected," Pennisi said.

SOUTHERN DOWNS MAYORAL RACE

"We need to put people first.

"When you have a top down approach, people get cranky, but when you empower people, they get on with it, they're happy."

Official results are expected to be announced tomorrow afternoon.

Tracy Dobie said she would not comment until the final count was released.

UPDATE 9.30PM:

THE preliminary count indicates Vic Pennisi will take the position of Southern Downs Mayor with a commanding lead of 1639 votes more than his closest competitor, Tracy Dobie. 

The count this evening comes in at 8607 votes to Pennisi, 6968 to Dobie, 2753 to Kemp and 934 to Doepel.

This count does not include postal and telephone polling, which could account for up to one third of the total number of votes, given the pandemic.

EARLIER:

STANTHORPE'S sole mayoral candidate in the four-way race to the election polls says he's "relaxed" as vote counting gets underway.

Voters have been given a choice to retain Tracy Dobie, or, usher in some new blood with, Joe Doepel, Peter Kemp or Stanthorpe's own Vic Pennisi as mayor.

It has been an arduous few months for Pennisi but he believes he did all he could to appeal to voters.

He started election day morning at roughly 4am, heading north to Massie, then also took in Allora, Killarney and Yangan among others to pick up some of his signs.

After announcing his run for Southern Downs mayor, Pennisi says he's been overwhelmed by the support leading up to March 28.

"I'm under no disillusion of two things," he said.

"One, what the outcome might be and or if successfully elected, what the future holds.

"It's difficult to win against an incumbent (Tracy Dobie).

"It's always a challenge to out poll an incumbent mayor.

"If successful, make no mistake, I have no misapprehension of the future ahead.

"We're still in drought and we've got to deal with coronavirus and anything could happen.

"Whoever gets elected will have to enable the new council as quickly as possible, under difficult circumstances."

Residents are saying there is a change in the air on the Southern Downs and talking of voting differently this election.

Their actions appeared inadequate in the face of their constituents' struggles, according to Kerry and Ken Nelson.

"I think everyone has had enough," Mrs Nelson said.

"Everybody has been struggling and nothing is getting done.

"Why would we vote them back in?"

Road maintenance was a key issue for the Nelsons, who said they were sick of poor road conditions around their side of town.

Jim and Kath Bloomfield said the region was due for a change.

"I don't think the council has done that much over their term, really," Mr Bloomfield said.

"They need to make it easier for businesses to grow here."

The sentiment was echoed by rural resident John Wehmyer, who said he felt there was a lack of rural representation and understanding in the current council.

"They could've done a lot better," Mr Wehmyer said.

"We need some new faces."

Ethan Webb said there was a quiet push around town for Pennisi, though he himself wasn't sure who he'd vote for.

Ultimately, water remained the number one issue for all voters questions.