COAL seam gas and conservative councillors have taken a beating in Lismore as Labor mayor Jenny Dowell was safely returned for another term.
Several progressive candidates, including Greens group leader Vanessa Ekins, had opted out of the mayoral vote in an attempt to focus the progressive vote on Cr Dowell, and the effort paid off last night as the sitting mayor danced across the magic 50% mark without needing to resort to preferences.
The strategy was not without risks. Had the vote fallen under 50%, even with a strong lead Cr Dowell would have been hard pressed to win preferences from the four conservative candidates arrayed against her.
And as voters shouted their approval for Cr Dowell, they roared their dissatisfaction with coal seam gas.
Lismore voters were asked: "Do you support coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and production in the Lismore City Council area" and they responded with a resounding "no".
The NSW Electoral Commission is listing the "no" vote currently at a hair over 88% - although it doesn't say what percentage of votes have been counted. The ABC is reporting the count at 51%.
The "no" vote had been widely expected, prompting CSG lobby group the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association about two weeks ago to drop its endorsement of the poll, complaining the question being asked of voters was leading and designed to elicit a "no" response.
In the councillor ballot, Jenny Dowell's strong showing in the mayoral race appears to have rubbed off on her ticket.
With nearly 60% of the vote counted, Labor's vote sits at more than 34%. With candidates needing a 10% vote to get onto the Lismore council, that gives Labor three councillors on top of Cr Dowell, who will now not be counted in the councillor contest.
That means Labor will be adding Glenys Ritchie to Isaac Smith and Ray Houston to its stable of Lismore councillors.
Of the other council candidates, only Neil Marks, who is coming second in the mayoral race, and Greens ticket leader Vanessa Ekins have secured enough votes to make it onto the council on primary votes.
That leaves five positions to be battled out on primaries.
Votes for the remaining group leaders are tight with the highest votes going to Graham Meineke's Group F (7.5%), Mathew Scheibel's New Generation Leaders (6.7%), Gianpiero Battista (6.6%), Simon Clough's Our Sustainable Future (6%), and Greg Bennett's Ratepayers group (6%).