Dubbo election: And the winners so far…

The first election of Dubbo Regional Council saw a diverse group of people chosen to lead the city.

By 4pm Sunday, the leaders in all but the Wellington ward had emerged.

As the results rolled in it also became clear the percentage of informal votes was significantly higher than the previous Dubbo and Wellington council elections.

In the 2012 Dubbo election 9.2 per cent of votes were informal. While counting is still ongoing, on Sunday afternoon the informal votes in the Dubbo wards reached 12.7 per cent.

Local election analyst Peter Bartley said from his observations during counting on Saturday night, about half of the informal votes were intentionally left blank, another 40 per cent of the informal votes were invalid from mistakes and the final 10 per cent were protest votes.

Several candidates blamed the wards for the increase in informal votes. Former Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson had the same view.

On social media Mr Dickerson made two predictions about the results of the election. He said he expected the lowest voter turnout and the highest number of informal votes in the history of the Australian Electoral Commission figures.

However, those who did vote made it clear who they wanted to represent them for the next three years.

It was an intense result in North ward with Jane Diffey recording the highest number of votes of any candidate. Ms Diffey had almost half of all votes for her ward. She will be joined in North ward by council veteran Ben Shields.

John Ryan also took away a significant amount of votes in Central ward. The journalist topped the ward, followed by Vicki Etheridge.

In South the voters turned to experience for their chosen two. Former councillors Greg Mohr and Kevin Parker ran a tight race in the first preference votes.

Meanwhile in East ward it was Dayne Gumley who received a large portion of the votes. Stephen Lawrence nudged in second, making history as the first Country Labor endorsed candidate to be a Dubbo councillor.

In Wellington it was too close to call by Sunday afternoon. While David Grant was the front runner in the votes it remained neck-and-neck between former mayor Anne Jones and teacher Adam Ryan.