Hooper, Williams, Claus, Johnson, Rewald on end of campaigns
Rockhampton residents cast votes for their next mayor on Saturday, ending a thronged trial that will elevate one leader from a pool of 17 candidates.
Before election day, 27,287 people had already voted, representing 48.84 per cent of all Rockhampton electors.
After polls closed at 6pm, Chris Hooper sat with friends outside his ‘Haveachat’ home on East Street.
He said regardless of who earned the mayoral title, the attention he garnered as an object of the State Government’s attention made his campaign a success.
Mr Hooper said it would strengthen others with his political views to make their voices heard in public life.
“We’ve sort of won anyway, and we’d encourage other people to stand up in their communities to do the same thing,” he said.
“I had a fair bit of fun doing it. It gets a bit hectic sometimes.”
Mr Hooper said people were indignant about the government’s retroactive alteration of local government legislation because they viewed it as a cynical attempt to strip the anti-mining advocate of his then-legal right.
“The ordinary yobbo are really pissed off about that,” he said.
“They made the rules, then I was the next in line, then they said, ‘Oh no, we can’t have him because he doesn’t play our game’.
“Ordinary people are really, really angry. They said things like, ‘I don’t agree with your policies, but I’m voting for you’.”
Councillor Tony Williams, who took a strong lead early in the count, said he was glad the race was over, and although he was looking forward to putting his feet up, there wouldn’t be much time for it.
“We’ve got work next week,” he said. “Not much time to relax at all.
“It was a really awkward time to run a campaign through the school holidays and the Christmas period and New Year’s: it made it really different just ordering and organising things.
“I’ll just sit back and watch the results and see how it goes. I’d just like to wish all the other candidates all the best.”
Russell Claus, who was on Saturday evening running in second to Mr Williams, felt he could have used more time to promote his message of vision and ability.
He defied anybody to accurately forecast the election results.
“I wish I had more time for the word to spread around because the general feeling that I got was that everybody’s been very interested in what I have to say, very supportive,” Mr Claus said.
“I don’t think there’ll be any clear indication tonight. I don’t think there’ll be a clear indication for several weeks.
“I don’t think anybody can predict trends on this. It’s going to be one of the most split votes that the community’s ever dealt with.”
Nyree Johnson said she and her family managed to make it to every booth in Rockhampton to promote her candidacy.
“It’s been really positive to be honest,” she said.
“There’s that great sense of friendship amongst the volunteers as well, which is what we experienced over pre-poll.
“For the candidates who were represented we had a really great sense of friendship, and fun, and light-hearted.”
Ms Johnson spent the night at home celebrating her campaign with family and friends.
John Rewald said he “learnt a lot” despite a “very steep learning curve”.
“But I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” he said.
“I think it’s gone as good as it could have considering the condesned timeframe we had and a number of restraints - obviously over Christmas everything was shutting down.”