Publican gets last seat in dramatic fashion
Karratha publican Bart Parsons was the winner of a game of one-ball bingo in the local government elections on Saturday.
Mr Parsons had tied with Julie Pope initially on 620 votes apiece for the last Karratha ward seat on the City of Karratha council.
After six hours and three minutes, and after three recounts, the names of both hopefuls were inserted into a pair of blue balls and shaken around in a box to decide who would be elected.
Returning officer Michelle Jacobs pulled out a ball and read Mr Parsons’ name to his relief.
Mr Parsons had become so nervous in the course of the night he stopped replying to phone messages from friends wanting to know how the count was going. It was one of the most dramatic scenes from this year’s local government elections in the North West.
It was a tense night in the City of Karratha chambers with close results and a chook raffle to finish the night.
Three members of a polling block which advertised heavily in the district were elected comfortably.
It may be a coincidence that water delivery driver Daniel Scott’s business is called Neverfail as the new councillor received the most votes with 733 in his first tilt at local politics.
“It was a pretty overwhelming feeling on Saturday night, to be honest,” Mr Scott said about being elected.
“I have talked to past councillors to get an understanding of how it operates so I can hit the ground running hopefully.”
Returning councillor Peter Long (719) and former citizen of the year Grant Cucel (658) were the other two members of the block to be elected.
Former councillor Margaret Bertling didn’t advertise but has such a high profile in the community she received the second most votes, 719.
Garry Bailey received the glut of votes for the new WickhamPoint Samson-Roebourne-Cossack-Pastoral Ward seat, picking up 210 votes. He had nearly double that of closest competitor Beth Smith (114), and well ahead of Wickham’s Marcus Tutt (62).
The story of the night though, was the comeback by Blanche Bar publican Bart Parsons, who came from about 30 votes down against Julie Pope early, to only eight behind halfway through the vote in the race for the final Karratha seat.
The other four seats looked all but decided for most of the night, and for a while hopeful Penny Little kept up pace with Mr Parsons and Mrs Pope.
She fell off in the late stages of the count as Mr Parsons and Mrs Pope finished tied with the winner decided by two balls being drawn out of a box.
Mr Parsons was convinced to run as someone who could bring a young voice onto the council.
Unlike other councils in the Town of Port Hedland and the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley where a combined six incumbent councillors were ousted over contentious issues, Mr Long did not seem to suffer the ill effects of the community ire surrounding the Pilbara Underground Power Project upheavals.
Just like when he was first elected mayor last term, Mr Long said the priority was to see the Art Precinct become a reality.
“Second is to address the antisocial behaviour around town,” he said.
“The thing happening is the hospital will start being built and we’re trying to give as much input into the design as possible.”
Elected councillor Bart Parsons, with the blue ball that decided his fate, and re-elected councillor Peter Long celebrate after a six-hour count for the City of Karratha council.
Councillor Geoff Harris fist pumps at the end of a long night when Bart Parsons was named the last new councillor for the City of Karratha.