Greg Petty wins final seat on Wollongong council

Independent councillor Greg Petty claimed the final seat on the new Wollongong City Council yesterday. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO
Independent councillor Greg Petty claimed the final seat on the new Wollongong City Council yesterday. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Helensburgh environmental campaigner Greg Petty has out-polled Liberal challenger David McKenna to claim the final seat on the new-look Wollongong City Council.The two men received an almost equal number of first preference votes on Saturday with neither reaching the required vote quota, culminating in a tense three-day wait as preferences were distributed.Mr Petty was at Wollongong Town Hall yesterday when NSW Election Commission officials announced his win."I'm very shocked but delighted at the result," he said. "I've been rather nervous, lots of butterflies, in the last few days."Mr Petty will join Liberal Leigh Colacino, Labor's Janice Kershaw and Greens candidate Jill Merrin in representing Ward 1.Michelle Blicavs will join running mate John Dorahy in holding two Liberal seats for Ward 2, after Mr Dorahy was out-polled by independent Gordon Bradbery for the lord mayoral position.Mr Dorahy is considered a favourite to be voted into the role of deputy lord mayor when the council meets for its first official public meeting on Wednesday.Former Labor councillor David Brown will return for another term while Greens candidate George Takacs will round out the four Ward 2 councillor positions.In Ward 3, Labor will have two representatives in Chris Connor and Ann Martin, Liberal numbers will be cemented at four with Bede Crasnich, and independent Vicki Curran will also take a seat on the new council.The 12-person team will be headed by Mr Bradbery, who will take the reins when the results are officially declared today.Mr Dorahy has quickly put his lord mayoral loss behind him, saying yesterday that simply having a place on the new-look council was the most important part of his run for public office.He said he felt "euphoric" at the contingent of Liberal councillors who were voted in, given the Labor dominance on the former council."It's never been done before, but Wollongong has obviously said they want change and they've voted for it," he said."It's up to us now to make that change happen."David Brown was all smiles when it was confirmed he would return to the council.The Wollongong resident was part of the former council that was sacked in 2008 following the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.He said yesterday he had been nervous going into the election."Two weeks out I could see the Liberals were doing well and I was worried how the Labor vote would go," he said."But on the day when we didn't get a hostile reception my confidence grew."I'm glad my vote held up."Some of the councillors met Wollongong City Council general manager David Farmer after yesterday's announcement for a rundown on council practice and procedure.