CLOSE: Mark McConnell(centre) appears to have a slight advantage on preference deals if voters follow the candidates' cards.
CLOSE: Mark McConnell(centre) appears to have a slight advantage on preference deals if voters follow the candidates' cards. Rob Williams

Preference deals a kick for McConnell

CANDIDATES across the board are expecting a close Division 7 by-election today with differences of opinion among them on whether preferences will prove crucial.

Preferences have not decided Ipswich elections in recent years but in a nine-candidate field where most pundits are tipping a knife's edge result they may well come into play.

Mark McConnell is in the top three preference positions on the how-to-vote cards of Mike McInnes, Jim McKee and David Martin, so if he finishes first or a narrow second in the primary vote, he will be in a strong position to win.

"Preferences will come into it if it is close,” Mr McConnell said.

"I have been speaking to people door knocking and a lot of them say they are undecided so preferencing gives them an opportunity to spread their love around.

"I have preferenced people like Dave Martin, Mike (McInnes) and Jim (McKee) because they are local and know the area.”

Mr McInnes said that he hoped the voters had informed themselves about the qualifications of all the candidates.

"I think we are all passionate about our division, but it is important to have the right skillset going forward,” he said.

Mr McInnes is the only candidate to preference all candidates from one to nine with Greg Forster top of the list and Mr McConnell next.

"I have preferenced who I believe has the best skill set should I not be successful,” he said.

Mr Martin, like all the candidates, said the election "would be close”.

"But I think there are four or five front runners,” he said.

"I have preferenced Mark and Greg because they are nice guys and they are the only candidates who approached me.

"I have known Greg for a while and I have only heard good reports about Mark.”

Darren Baldwin, one of the favourites, has a "vote one” how to vote card and has no preference deal with any candidates because he said none were interested in doing a deal.

"It think it will be close . . . but I think it will be won on primary votes and preferences won't come into it,” he said.

"I have been getting a great response and I have done some things a little differently to last time (when he ran in Division 9), and after the election we will see whether it was a success or not.”

Mr McKee ran in 2016 and scored over 30% of the vote, but said he was not taking anything for granted.

"I am expecting a real nail biter,” he said.

"Preferences don't account for much of the vote; maybe 5% to 10%.

"I have preferenced Rochelle (Caloon) because like me she is an independent business person who is standing up for her area and Mark has a good skill set.”

Mr McKee said he had been heartened by his response on pre-poll.

"It is really nice when people come out and say they have voted for you, and that is a nice experience,” he said.

David Austin has a "vote one” how-to-vote card, Wayne Firns has not submitted one while Ms Caloon has only allocated a preference for Mr McKee.