ROLLING COVERAGE: Phone polls push Pennisi ahead
UPDATE 3.45PM: THE phone polls have been counted but the mayoral declaration is yet to be made.
Vic Pennisi has received 9054 votes so far and maintains a majority with 44.63 per cent of the vote.
Tracy Dobie follows with 7346 votes for 36.21 per cent of the vote.
Peter Kemp has 2897 votes for 14.28 per cent and Joe Doepel has 988 votes, making up the remaining 4.87 per cent of the preliminary count.
Mr Pennisi, the only mayoral candidate from Stanthorpe, said he was "humbled" by the swing and attributed his surge in popularity to his election promise to bring the council "back to the people".
Given neither candidate has yet to achieve a 50 per cent majority, the Queensland Electoral Commission expects to begin using the preferential voting system.
The lengthy process means a declaration is unlikely before Wednesday.
Pennisi said whatever the final outcome was it was time to "get on with the job".
UPDATE 12PM March 29: Vic Pennisi has maintained his lead in the Southern Downs Regional Council mayoral race.
The Electoral Commission Queensland confirmed counting of postal votes had begun this morning as well as a check count to ensure no votes were missed.
Pennisi currently has 8974 votes, up 367 votes after the voting count stopped last night.
Tracy Dobie remains second with 7254 votes, while Peter Kemp sits in third with 2866 votes.
Joe Doepel rounds out the mayoral race with 970 votes.
UPDATE 10PM March 28: IT'S too close to call who will win the mayoral vote for the Southern Downs Regional Council, according to front runner Vic Pennisi.
With postal and telephone votes yet to be counted, the mayoral hopeful said he won't claim anything yet.
"I'm not going to say anything at this stage but it will be hard to peg that back," Pennisi said.
"The trend is your friend."
Pennisi attributed his surge in popularity to his election promise to bring the council "back to the people".
"At every level of government, in my view, we have disconnected," Pennisi said.
"We need to put people first.
"When you have a top down approach, people get cranky, but when you empower people, they get on with it, they're happy."
Official results are expected to be announced tomorrow afternoon.
Tracy Dobie said she would not comment until the final count was released.
UPDATE 9.30PM: THE preliminary count indicates Vic Pennisi will take the position of Southern Downs Mayor with a commanding lead of 1639 votes more than his closest competitor, Tracy Dobie.
The count this evening comes in at 8607 votes to Pennisi, 6968 to Dobie, 2753 to Kemp and 934 to Doepel.
This count does not include postal and telephone polling, which could account for up to one third of the total number of votes, given the pandemic.
EARLIER: THE mayoral race is neck and neck as frontrunners Vic Pennisi and Tracy Dobie vie for the position of Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor.
Pennisi is leading the count with 897 votes or 39.96 per cent of the vote.
Dobie is not far behind with 809 votes or 36.04 per cent of the vote.
Peter Kemp trails behind at 17.33 per cent of the vote and Joe Doepel rounds up the race at fourth position with 6.25 per cent of the vote.