Gender revolution: More women run Southern Downs

WITH voting set to wrap up today, the new-look Southern Downs Regional Council will welcome five women on board.

Incumbent Jo McNally has served since 2012 alongside Denise Ingram, but will likely be joined by Yve Stocks, Sheryl Windle and Marika McNichol in the new council.

Ahead of the election, 13,040 of the total enrolled voters in the Southern Downs were female and 12,213 were male.

Mayor-elect Tracy Dobie said having five women in council was a better reflection of the region population.

"I think it's a great representation from the community because the community is at least 50% women," she said.

"It's wonderful that women, as a true representation of community, have been elected and can bring good views and their experience to council and a much more balanced response.

"This time I think quite a lot of the candidates ran quite strong marketing campaigns and got out there and made themselves known."

Though the other candidates did not see gender as an obstacle, they all said it was a welcome change to have more women working in council.

As well as greater gender diversity, Cr McNally and Ms Stocks said they thought a mix of experienced and new councillors would be a great addition to council.

"There's obviously going to be a mix of old and new councillors," Cr McNally said. "I think it will be good to have more women as well as that mix and we'll be able to learn from our mistakes and move forward and work together to achieve for our community.

"It's a good balance of male and female councillors and I do think it will be good to have the experienced councillors on board so we're not starting off from scratch," Ms Stocks said.

"I think the fact that we have more women elected should be recognised because it is fantastic to have that, but it doesn't need to be made a big deal of," she said.

"I think maybe the interest women have taken in these things once upon a time didn't happen but there have been lots of women among the candidates at this election.

"Women of course should be involved in local politics. We have good ideas and often are a lot more practical than men and, I say this jokingly, we can do more than one thing at a time."

Ms Windle and Mrs McNichol said councillors should be elected because of their merits and their willingness to work together for the region, not because of their gender.

"I think it's important to have both male and female point of view but I wasn't really concerned about that," Ms McNichol said.

"I'm happy to work with whoever's on council. This is a whole new experience for me and I just want to work with people and make a brighter future for the region."

"This is something I've been interested in for a long time and I don't look at it as a matter of gender," Ms Windle said.

"I think everyone's an individual, and whether male or female everyone has something to bring to the table.

"Maybe some people see this as a step forward but I think in today's era women are forthright in getting out and having go and the opportunities are there."

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