New Council takes shape

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Tricia Hitchen and Greg Davies were both returned to Council

Less than two days since the polling booths closed, it’s safe to say Penrith Council will consist of seven Labor Councillors, and at least five Liberal Councillors.

Two of the three remaining Councillor positions are expected to be filled by independents Marcus Cornish and Jim Aitken, but with postal votes yet to be counted, the final spot could remain open for several days.

With South Ward and East Ward almost certainly decided, it’s between North Ward’s independent Kevin Crameri and the second candidate on the Liberal ticket, Glenn Gardiner to secure a spot on Council.

If Mr Crameri loses his spot to a Liberal, Council will be divided between seven Labor and six Liberals, leaving the two independents, Mr Cornish and Mr Aitken, holding the balance of power.

In East Ward, Labor received 13 per cent more votes than in the 2012 election, which secured them three candidates, Greg Davies, Todd Carney and Ben Price.

The Liberal Party vote was up 9.6 per cent, delivering the final two positions to current Councillors Tricia Hitchen and Bernard Bratusa.

The Greens didn’t get any candidate over the approximate 5,195 votes needed for the ward.

South Ward’s five Councillors will be independent Jim Aitken, who secured more than the approximate 4,415 votes needed, plus Labor’s Karen McKeown and her second candidate, Kath Presdee.

Karen McKeown was joined by NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley on Saturday
Karen McKeown was joined by NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley on Saturday

Labor’s vote was up almost 12 per cent on 2012, and while the Liberal Party vote was down by almost four per cent, they still secured Mark Davies and his second candidate, 23-year-old Joshua Hoole.

In North Ward, Labor’s vote was up and John Thain not only held onto his position, but even got his young number two, 25-year-old Aaron Duke, across the line.

“We are pretty pleased, we had 11-plus per cent swings in each ward toward Labor which is pretty good for us,” Mr Thain said.

The result reflects previous elections that experienced swings toward Labor, when Prue Car won Londondery in the State Election and Emma Husar took Lindsay from the Liberals in the Federal Election.

Mr Thain suggested voters were trying to send the Baird Liberal Government a message.

“A lot of people were talking about greyhounds and Nepean Hospital, and even WestConnex came up. I think it was about giving Mike Baird a whack,” Mr Thain said.

The Liberals did however, secure veteran Councillor and former Mayor and Deputy Mayor Ross Fowler for North Ward, and while their vote is up by 7 per cent on 2012, it’s too close to call yet whether Mr Fowler will get his second, Glenn Gardiner up.

“There’s negativity going around about the Liberal Party,” Mr Fowler admitted.

“Given last Council Election results, all Liberals got back except Ben Goldfinch who didn’t run, but we got an extra young bloke with Joshua Hoole.”

Ross Fowler will return to Council
Ross Fowler will return to Council

Marcus Cornish held on to his position, securing enough votes over the approximate 5,379 vote quota, despite copping a hit over potentially misleading how to vote cards.

“There was a legal ruling that Cornish had to cross out the words ‘liberal’ on the how to vote cards. He handed them out crossed out,” Mr Fowler said.

Council lost former Independent-turned Christian Democrat Maurice Girotto, and no Greens candidates secured a place in any of the three wards, instead they lost their one seat in North Ward held by Michelle Tormey.

YOUR LIKELY COUNCIL

North Ward:
John Thain
Aaron Duke
Marcus Cornish
Ross Fowler
Glenn Gardiner or Kevin Crameri

South Ward:
Jim Aitken
Karen McKeown
Kath Presdee
Mark Davies
Josh Hoole

East Ward:
Greg Davies
Todd Carney
Ben Price
Tricia Hitchen
Bernard Bratusa

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