LIVE: Top eight bring council "back to the people"
UPDATE 10.30AM: THE race to the Southern Downs councillor chambers continues with The Hermitage resident Ross Bartley leading the charge.
The primary producer and former councillor ran on a platform of council transparency, tapping into a region-wide desire to bring the local government "back to the people".
It was a popular theme this election season, featuring in campaigns by mayoral frontrunner Vic Pennisi among others.
With 77 per cent of the unofficial preliminary count now complete, Mr Bartley has 8764 votes and takes 5.89 per cent of the overall count.
He is followed by Stanthorpe resident and incumbent councillor Cameron Gow who promised stability and sustainability for the region.
Mr Gow, a former firefighter, has 7733 votes or 5.19 per cent of the count.
Jo McNally continues to be a firm favourite on the Southern Downs, coming in at third position with 5.13 per cent with 7639 votes.
The "proud" Warwick resident has sat on council for 10 years, while simultaneously running two local businesses with her husband.
She told The Daily News her experience in council chambers taught her the value of learning new skills and always adapting to new challenges.
Driving instructor, former police officer and former Daily News columnist Andrew Gale takes fourth preference with 5.02 per cent of the count, bringing in 7480 votes thus far.
Mr Gale, from Warwick, championed the idea of greater council communication, advocating for an end to non-essential confidential meetings.
Incumbent councillor and lifelong resident Sheryl Windle looks set to return to her seat for the next four years after successfully securing more than $100 million in funding for a number of community projects.
Mrs Windle told The Daily News she is a "team player" that is budget focussed and eager to keep rates down.
First-time candidate Marco Gliori comes in at sixth position, having won over 7101 voters (4.77 per cent) to date with his overt love of the Southern Downs region.
The charismatic bush poet from The Hermitage said he wants to act as a "unifying force" in council, facilitating conversations and ensuring each resident is heard, regardless of where they live.
He is closely followed by Cynthia McDonald from west of Warwick, who has 4.7 per cent of the count, for 6999 votes.
Mrs McDonald demonstrated her determination to help the rural community during the height of the drought, coordinating several relief efforts.
A former army officer and a cattle producer, Mrs McDonald has a strong vision to the future and hopes to rebuild the region's economic prosperty.
The eighth, and final position on council, could go to Stephen Tancred from Mt Marley in Stanthorpe.
Mr Tancred holds 4.6 per cent of the vote, with 6854 at last count, and has extensive experience working within the government, particularly in the CSIRO and the Department of Primary Industries.
There remains 23 per cent of the vote to be counted, so these positions could change over the coming days as preference votes come into play.
Hot on the heels of the top eight are Glyn Rees (4.47 per cent), Russell Wantling (4.45 per cent), Rod Kelly (4.38 per cent), Michael Jensen (4.23 per cent) and Yve Stocks (3.98 per cent).
The full list
JENSEN, Michael Damian
HARROLD, Amanda Joy
JOHNSON, Gregory Glenn
UPDATE 2.45PM MARCH 30: The latest update from Electoral Commission Queensland shows that pre-polling from Stanthorpe and postal votes have seen some significant changes in the candidates' positions.
Ross Bartley has maintained his early lead with 8613 votes, followed by Cameron Gow, Jo McNally, and Andrew Gale with 7606, 7535, and 7365 votes respectively.
Sheryl Windle, Marco Gliori, and Cynthia McDonald retained their positions in the top eight with 7267, 7004, and 6890 votes.
However, in the biggest swing of the day, Stephen Tancred has jumped from fifteenth to eighth position, pushing Glyn Rees out of a potential council seat by almost 200 votes.
Russell Wantling has also moved up the rankings into tenth position with 6495 votes, followed by Rod Kelly with 6411 and Michael Damian Jensen with 6187.
Julia Keogh and Yve Stocks both dropped several positions, sliding to thirteenth with 5844 and 5827 votes respectively.
The candidates placing in the lower half of the rankings have stayed quite consistent, but even these positions have seen some changes.
Amanda Joy Harrold has moved up to 5781 votes, with the next closest Marika McNichol down to 5309 votes.
The lower half of the polling hasn't seen so many changes, but some candidates have improved noticeably.
Dropping below the 5000-vote mark now, Max Hunter, Greg Grant, and Sue Laws have so far polled 4865, 4683, and 4466 votes respectively.
Coming in next with 4195 votes is Marion Carrick, closely tailed by Scott Christensen on 4161 and Paola Cabezas with 4034 votes.
The final four candidates remain Barbara Madsen with 3712 votes, Robert Ettery on 3334, Jenn Greene-Galloway with 3321, and Gregory Johnson polling 2340 votes.
UPDATE 11AM MARCH 30: With over half of the preliminary count now completed, the front runners in the race for positions on the Southern Downs Regional Council are beginning to pull away from the rest of the pack.
Former deputy mayor Ross Bartley remains in the lead, with 6655 votes or 6.23 per cent, however Sheryll Windle, Marco Gliori, and Jo McNally are close at his heels with 6245, 6222, and 5975 votes respectively.
The bottom half of the top eight is an equally tight race, led by Cynthia McDonald on 5309 votes and closely followed by Andrew Gale's 5293. Rod Kelly and Glyn Rees round out round out the top eight, polling 5229 and 5142 respectively.
However, with Electoral Commission Queensland's having counted only 55.77 per cent of votes, several candidates just outside the top eight remain in contention for a council position.
Julia Keogh is currently sitting in ninth position on 5083 votes, closely followed by Cameron Gow with 5042 and Yve Stocks on 5033.
At this stage of the count, it's from this twelfth position onwards that the margin between candidates begins to widen significantly.
Coming in next is Russell Wantling, having polled 3955 votes so far, just ahead of Marika McNichol's 3796, Sue Law's 3690, and Steven Tancred's 3656.
Further down, Scott Christensen has polled 3464 votes, Greg Grant has 3355 votes, with Michael Damian Jensen's 3058 and Amanda Joy Harrold's 3009 votes rounding out those above the 3000-vote benchmark.
Almost 4000 votes behind the current leader is Robert Ettery with 2818, closely followed by Max Hunter with 2808, Jenn Greene-Galloway with 2739, and Marrion Carrick with 2771.
The margin then widens further for the final three candidates, with Barbara Marsden having polled 2400 votes to just beat out Paola Cabezas' 2307, but still a retain a significant lead on final candidate Gregory Glenn Johnson's 1764.
Electoral Commission Queensland will release an update including Stanthorpe pre-polling and additional postal votes later today.
UPDATE 5.45PM: Close to 9000 postal votes have been calculated today from the Warwick early voting centre as the race for Southern Downs Regional Council heats up.
Early leader and former deputy mayor Ross Bartley has maintained the lead he took yesterday, polling 4437 votes today, bringing his total to 6439 votes.
Incumbent councillor Sherly Windle is not far behind, polling 6033 cumulative votes today.
Well-known poet Marco Gliori has also polled well, taking his total count to 5998 votes.
Andrew Gale and Cynthia McDonald, as well as incumbent councillors Jo McNally, Rod Kelly and Yve Stocks have all polled well after today's count.
Electoral Commission Queensland have paused the count for today and will resume tomorrow morning with pre-polled votes from Stanthorpe booths, as well as postal votes.
UPDATE 4PM: An early front runner for a position on the Southern Downs Regional Council, Ross Bartley believes "patience is a virtue" as votes continue to be counted.
There has been no update to the Electoral Commission Queensland website since 10am, however initial results saw Mr Bartley poll 2016 votes or 5.68 per cent of votes counted.
Mr Bartley said the results weren't surprising, instead thought it was "quite interesting".
"It's hard to say (why I've got ahead) really - it could be a combination of things, prior experience or being a local," he said.
"Or the fact that I've never left our community."
Incumbent councillor Jo McNally remains hot on the heels of Mr Bartley, having polled 1824 votes after this morning's update.
While it still remains to early to determine the eight elected councillors, Mr Bartley has maintained his views on what he would bring if elected.
"An open, fair and transparent style," he said.
"And bringing a community connection to the council.
"To make an assumptions at this point would be pointless - this could see saw for quite a while, we just have to be patient."
UPDATE 10.30am: Counting has resumed in the race for one of eight positions on the Southern Downs Regional Council.
Last night's front runner Ross Bartley has extended his lead polling 2016 votes or 5.68 per cent of the votes counted.
Councillor Jo McNally remains in a good position to retain her seat on the council, with 1824 votes or 4.94 per cent of votes counted.
Andrew Gale and incumbent councillor Sheryl Windle have also pulled ahead in the count, both polling 1691 votes or 4.76 per cent of the vote.
Electoral Commission Queensland have counted 19.12 per cent of the votes this morning.
EARLIER: IT'S a tight race for one of the eight council positions available in the Southern Downs Regional Council.
Former mayoral candidate Ross Bartley has emerged as a front runner with 1497 votes or 5.42 per cent of the votes collected last night.
Incumbent councillor Jo McNally is not far behind with 1451 votes or 5.26 per cent of the votes.
A further eight candidates have polled over 4.2 per cent of the vote including Stephen Tancred, Cynthia McDonald, Marco Gliori, Russell Wantling, Cameron Gow, Julia Keogh, Andrew Gale, Glyn Rees and Sheryl Windle.
Electoral Commission Queensland had counted 14.92 per cent of votes before the counting stopped for the night.