ARISE THE NINE
By EMMA CORNFORD
ALL IT TOOK was the click of a mouse ? and the first Clarence Valley Council was formed.
Around 35 people were on hand to witness the computer's verdict at the Grafton Civic Centre yesterday ? a mixture of candidates, supporters, council employees and former councillors.
Before the announcement, some candidates clutched cups of coffee or tea, their voices slightly strained with nerves as they waited to find out if they had been chosen to represent the people of the Clarence Valley.
As the clock on the wall ticked over to 11am, the names of candidates, intertwined with lines of computer gibberish, scrolled down the screen as people gathered around to try and get a glimpse of the elected nine. The word 'excluded' followed most of the names, signifying disappointment for those who did not make it.
But nine names were not excluded: Chris Gulaptis, Terry Flanagan, Richie Williamson, Joy Mathews, Shirley Adams, Kerry Lloyd, Doug Mackenzie, Fred Morgan and Ian Tiley. They were elected in that order.
As Joy Mathews' husband bent over and saw his wife's name as confirmed on the council, he turned and almost yelled the good news to Mrs Mathews, who was seated, wearing a purple straw hat adorned with a rainbow of flowers.
Her jaw dropped and relief spread over her face; later he would kiss her cheek in congratulations.
Ian Tiley looked incredibly relieved when he made it into the top nine, shaking hands with those around him and immediately making calls on his mobile phone.
Richie Williamson, standing at the back of the room, also had the air of a man with a weight lifted from his shoulders as he was announced as part of the Clarence Valley Council.
If no candidates call for a recount by 11am today, the nine announced yesterday will form the new council. It seems rural, upriver and downriver interests will all be represented, with four councillorselect from downriver and the other five from Ulmarra or further upriver.
And with five of the elected members having held the position of mayor in the past, the mayoral contest to lead the new council could pan out to be an in- teresting race.