IT is not often voters can seek change and find it in the security of the familiar, but that is what happened on Saturday.
With four councillors not recontesting their seats, two completely new tickets and six new independent candidates, there was ample opportunity for voters to throw caution to the wind.
Instead they rebuffed some of the sitting councillors, but their votes flowed not to radical new candidates but to the familiar name of Turner.
Former Nationals member for Orange Russell Turner and his team were the biggest winners on Sunday, pushing the Group C ticket of mayor John Davis into second place in the above-the-line vote.
The biggest losers were incumbents Chris Gryllis and now one-term councillor Sam Romano.
The candidates who must be disappointed in their showing were Brian Wood’s Group D, a spin-off of the Orange Ratepayers Association and Ron Gander’s Group E.
Though they may yet scrape over the line when preferences are allocated, Mr Wood and Mr Gander will be solitary figures.
And in a reflection of just how hard it is to be elected as a below-the-line independent, Rob Williamson, Troy Sweeting and Aaron Wright look certain to join Mr Gryllis on the sidelines, while Gail Copping and former Cabonne councillor Kevin Duffy have only a remote chance on preferences.
That was how it looked yesterday afternoon as the electoral commission continued counting. On a bleak Saturday, when the mercury did not venture above 9 degrees, the predictions were understandably more optimistic.
Gail Copping, a perennial candidate was hoping for the 12th and last seat on council.
“I got a lot more support than last time.
A lot more people will vote below the line. I think they’re sick of the group system,” Ms Copping said.
Paula Townsend, who has earned admiration and respect for her work with the Bowen Residents Action Group, was at number 3 on Ron Gander’s group ticket, the highest placed woman after Sarah Buckingham (number 2 on The Greens behind Neil Jones).
Ms Townsend too sensed an electorate ready for change.
“I think I have a lot of support from Orange people wanting change. I’m working all over Orange. Orange is not separated by a train track,” she said as she campaigned outside Bowen Public School.
At 4pm, outside Anson Street School, Brian Wood and Jason Hamling, the number 2 on John Davis’s ticket, were waiting on the stragglers. It was cold and windy and the day was almost done.
“I’ve done alright in this area, this is my area,” Mr Wood said.
Of the voters he had spoken to, most seemed to have done their homework before polling day.
“The majority knew who they were voting for,” he said.
“The pipeline was a definite issue. They don’t want it.”
Mr Hamling agreed, about the homework at least.
“A lot of people know what they’re doing (before they get to the polling booth), more so than in past elections,” he said.
“They’ve done their homework, they haven’t taken (how-to-vote) cards.”
With a high informal vote, it also seems many did no homework at all.
Of the remaining candidates it is interesting to note that Reg Kidd, who topped the personal vote for the second consecutive election, was absent from the polling booth fray and rumoured to be on the golf course.
Chris Gryllis booked some advertising before booking a flight to Europe several weeks ago while mayor Davis was not sighted by any candidate on Saturday yet polled very well.