AFTER 12 years at the helm, Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham almost has retirement in his grasp.
As each ballot paper is counted, Cr Bellingham's time in office inches closer to completion.
"The day the poll is declared is the day I will be dismissed and asked for my keys back," he said.
"It will be a bit sad but I made my decision and it is time for me to leave."
The long serving leader said he loved his time in the top job and said naturalisation ceremonies were the setting of some of his most treasured memories.
"I have seen people attend the ceremonies in singlets and thongs and others who came with an entourage of 30 people," he said.
Although it is no surprise the outgoing mayor will be watching the polls closely tonight, he has remained tight-lipped on who he believed would be his successor.
Cr Bellingham said he planned to spend time at both his business and farm and, hopefully, will find time for a holiday with his wife, Kath.
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