Incumbents celebrate re-election after 'difficult' campaign

VYING FOR A VOTE: Councillor Jeff Whitton hands out how-to-votes last Saturday at Orange High School. Photo: TRACEY PRISK

VYING FOR A VOTE: Councillor Jeff Whitton hands out how-to-votes last Saturday at Orange High School. Photo: TRACEY PRISK

ORANGE Country Labor may not have run an endorsed ticket, but two candidates who barely regained their seats believe having members on four different groups split last Saturday’s vote. 

Councillors Glenn Taylor and Jeff Whitton have historically been running mates, but this time ran separate tickets, while fellow branch members Bernard Fitzsimon and Luke Sanger ran tickets of their own. 

The incumbents were elected at the 80th count, without a quota, while Mr Fitzsimon was excluded at the 79th round and Mr Sanger at the 76th

Cr Whitton said because the branch did not run an endorsed ticket, any member could run. 

“We didn’t have a strategy from a branch level – there was no real reason why there were four tickets, it just happened,” he said.

“I wanted to see if I could make it on my own, Bernard wanted to have a shot and Luke felt he wanted to have a shot.”

However, Cr Taylor said it split the vote “a lot”. 

“It made it extremely difficult for us, and we knew that from the start,” he said. 

“The good news is we got the same result we’ve always had, which is Jeff and I [elected], even though it took a bit longer for us both to get on.”

Mr Sanger was proud of his result, given it was his first time running for council, and would continue advocating for AFL games to be brought to Orange.

“There’s a few little mistakes I made, I didn’t have any policies on my how-to-vote cards, but it’s hard to do when you’re running the campaign out of your back pocket,” he said. 

He did not believe he was affected by the split in the vote because while councillors Whitton and Taylor and Mr Fitzsimon were well-known Labor members, he was not. 

“I think it affected Taylor, Whitton, Bernard and [Kevin] Duffy because while he may not be an active member anymore, he was and people have an avid memory,” he said. 

Mr Fitzsimon said he had expected the result to go “all over the shop” given the number of candidates and which candidate picked up the votes formerly going to previous mayor John Davis.

With the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers performing strongly in state byelection and the council election, Mr Fitzsimon said it was up to the party to deliver on the support, and Labor’s future hopes lay in its younger members.

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