IT’S OFFICIAL: New mayor gives first interview
AFTER a week of nervous waiting, the Southern Downs has a new mayor.
Stanthorpe's Vic Pennisi was declared the winner by the Electoral Commission of Queensland late last night.
Mr Pennisi, a local government veteran of more than 16 years, toppled incumbent, Tracy Dobie.
With 9427 votes to Ms Dobie's 7755, the ECQ had seen enough to declare their victor.
Mr Pennisi comes into the role as the Southern Downs battles the unprecendeted impacts of COVID-19, while also still contending with drought and the lasting impacts of bushfires.
But it was Mr Pennisi's fellow candidates and the outgoing mayor that he wished to thank first.
"It is with humility I can now inform the region the Electoral Commission of Queensland has formally declared I am the elected Mayor of Southern Downs Regional Council for this term," he said.
"I congratulate all candidates who put their hand up for community leadership positions in this election, as either mayor or councillor.
"Your enthusiasm for this region makes it a better place and I thank all of you.
"I further congratulate candidates for a mature election, you all rose to a civility and a high level of engaging debate which our community expects and deserves.
"In particular, I acknowledge the incumbent mayor, Tracy Dobie, and thank you for your service to this region.
"I know you and (husband) Colin will enjoy your next chapter and I sincerely thank you for your efforts and wish you both well, going forward."
Mr Pennisi has lived on the Granite Belt his entire 61 years.
He stood on a platform of 'bottom up style governance' and trust and transparency.
"Every candidate knows elections are hard work. For this reason, I thank all my supporters for inspiring me to stand up and get through what has been hard work.
"I am sure many will agree the conditions have been made harder by the uncertain challenges we have faced across, not just this region, but for our country.
"I am under no illusion the road ahead will be a little rocky. Together we will overcome any obstacles, and rebuild our communities.
"What we have faced together in recent times has demonstrated our resilience and it is this strength I know will continue to inspire me to be better every single day.
"My sleeves have been rolled up for several years, serving this region, and I will continue to do this.
"I am also excited about continuing to listen, learn and grow this region.
"Southern Downs is unique and wonderful and I cannot wait to forge ahead, knuckle down and get on with making every day better."
Throughout the campaign Mr Pennisi's wife, Sharon, has been his closest adviser.
"Thank you to my family. I love you very much."
Warwick's Peter Kemp polled 3059 mayoral votes and Allora's Joe Doepel received 1050.
As for who will be working alongside Mr Pennisi, the councillor declarations are yet to come in.
Mr Pennisi could have two fellow Stanthorpe men at his side in Cameron Gow and Stephen Tancred.
The other six councillor positions are, at this stage, made up of Warwick based candidates Ross Bartley, Jo McNally, Andrew Gale, Sheryl Windle, Marco Gliori and Cynthia McDonald.