Mayor makes it to three terms, but who's joining him?
MAYOR Mark Jamieson is all but guaranteed to take up his third term in office, with leading contender Chris Thompson conceding defeat late Sunday.
But the make up of his next council remains a mystery, helped largely by sluggish results from the Electoral Commission Queensland, as it battled technical issues and the effects of coronavirus measures on staffing.
At the time of going to print several seats remained in the balance, including retiring Deputy Mayor Tim Dwyer's seat of Division 2, with Terry Landsberg ahead in that race.
The blue-chip coastal seat of Division 4 was also a fascinating contest, with former Maroochy Shire Mayor Joe Natoli, on a lifestyle ticket which clearly resonated with some, shooting out to an early lead.
Incumbent councillor John Connolly was hopeful of a bounce in the pre-poll results, to head off the challenge.
In Division 5, Greens candidate Tracy Burton was going head-to-head with LNP life member and former councillor Winston Johnston for the seat vacated by long-time councillor Jenny McKay.
It could be a case of preferences deciding it, but the impact of preferences had largely been expected to be watered down by the effects of measures put in place during the campaign restricting the dissemination of voting material, to combat the spread of the virus.
As a result, a high number of 'just vote 1' ballots were being reported around the region.
Maria Suarez started strongly in the counting in Division 9, and she led another former councillor in Bruce Dunne, with senior detective Daren Edwards in third on the preliminary count, with just more than 17 per cent of votes tallied.
Local hope David Law looms as the man to beat in Division 10, in the race to fill the shoes of outgoing councillor Greg Rogerson.
Greens candidate Sue Etheridge was among the trailing pack, and she'd stated her happiness for Mr Law, given his alignment with her values.
Mr Natoli, buoyed by the early results in Division 4, made clear during his time on the hustings he'd picked up on a tone of dissatisfaction, and a need to address problems associated with a rapid rate of development and lagging infrastructure.
He tipped a council that included himself and a number of Greens or similarly-aligned councillors to be different from that of the previous four years, forecasting more accountability and greater scrutiny of decision-making.
Winston Johnston made clear he'll be no pushover, if elected, and would be fighting hard to secure a more even share for hinterland residents.
It could prove a different council to navigate for Cr Jamieson, who will no doubt be under pressure early in the new term to, along with state and federal governments, come up with solutions to assist with the coronavirus pandemic, as communities around the country struggle.
Whether that struggle will lead to a more compassionate, support-based approach, or deliver a renewed focus on business, development and investment, to try and ride out the economic headwinds forecast, was yet to be seen.
Regardless of the final results, some of which could take days, there are significant challenges ahead for the new council, in a region home to more than 30,000 small businesses, which will be all too acutely aware of the effects of a pandemic which has changed life as we know it in what feels like a heartbeat.
Let's hope the new team is up to the challenge.