Ireland wins Division 9 after surprise preference flow
IT WAS the election given up as lost, and then won after a tense preference count.
But Cr Sheila Ireland could finally raise her arms in triumph on Thursday after claiming Division 9 by 650 votes.
The big question mark was over how the preferences from third placed Jade Connor would fall after he had done a preference deal with second placed Darren Baldwin, the main challenger.
But Mr Connor's preferences unfolded contrary to expectation yesterday with Cr Ireland securing 327, Mr Baldwin 377 and the other 1257 exhausted.
Cr Ireland was ahead 4199 to Mr Baldwin's 3549 yesterday after preferences, with just handfuls of votes still to count.
"I am just pleased that the final count is over," a delighted Cr Ireland told the QT.
"It has been a gruelling campaign and the wait has been very tense. I thank my family and my husband Chris who has taken the mood swings very well.
"I also have to thank my electorate officer Madonna Trevorrow who has been a really good support to me.
"She kept saying we were going to win all the time, and really believed it.
" I've had so much support from residents sending their love and prayers, and I thank them all.
"It has been very humbling."
It has certainly been a roller coaster ride for Cr Ireland over the past 12 days.
Cr Ireland thought she'd lost initially and even seemed to concede defeat in the QT straight after the election.
"My information on the night was that the preferences had favoured Darren so as a support mechanism for myself it was a case of 'don't get your hopes up'," she said.
The QT had been told Cr Ireland had also removed everything from her Raceview office so we asked her about that.
"The council came in and helped me to tidy up the office...yes," she said.
She saw the funny side of all that in hindsight.
"But I'm not sure if they (council) will because they have got to bring it all back," she grinned.
"It is somewhere in council, so I'll have to find it."
Cr Ireland came into council in 2004 and has had one uncontested election since.
"I congratulate the other candidates and I look forward to being a strong voice for Division 9 for the next four years," she said graciously.
Cr Ireland's husband Chris said it had been a long, arduous campaign that started in September last year.
"There was a terrific effort put in by the other candidates and they all worked very hard," he said.
"Sheila was at the end extremely mobile and working hard to do what had to be done to get the remaining votes in and to be seen to be seeing people, when she was still at work.
"It was probably hard to be at work and trying to campaign at the same stage, but congratulations to her because it was a wonderful effort."
Chris has lost a few kilos during the campaign, but not through stress.
"I was doing my exercises on the bike every morning doing the handouts around Redbank Plains and Springfield Lakes, and we had a few helpers as well," he grinned.
"So it was a fitness campaign too."
The last 12 days was a strain at times.
"We were chatting frequently to each other a fair bit over Weetbix, Corn Flakes and toast just trying to get the momentum going and stay optimistic," he said.
"As I said, it was an excellent campaign by the others, and all we could try to do was match it with our little team.
"As today's count shows, it was more successful than I thought, but what I think doesn't count at all.
"The people gave it the thumbs up and we are very grateful to all the residents."
EARLIER: Sitting Councillor Sheila Ireland is the winner of the Ipswich City Council election in Division 9.
Ireland overcame the challenge of Darren Baldwin for the seat, winning by 650 votes.
The result means that no sitting councillor has been defeated in Ipswich since 2000.
Shortly after her win, Cr Ireland wrote on QT Facebook:
"Thanks to the residents of division 9 for believing in me. I am truly grateful to serve them again and get to do a job I love every single day. Sincerely thank you!"
On Twitter, rival candidate Jade Connor congratulated Ireland on her re-election, adding "Pleased to have run against you in a clean and respectful campaign."
Division 9 final figures:
- Ireland - 4199
- Baldwin - 3549