Jenny Whitney has issued a statement conceding a defeat in the mayoral race.
Jenny Whitney has issued a statement conceding a defeat in the mayoral race.

Jenny Whitney: I congratulate Mayor Willcox on his victory

JENNY Whitney has issued a statement this morning, saying she has congratulated Andrew Willcox on his victory as the new mayor of the Whitsunday Regional Council.

Here is her statement in full...

"Following the declaration of the poll by the Electoral Commission of Queensland, I phoned Andrew Willcox and congratulated him on his victory and wished him all the best as the next Mayor of Whitsunday Regional Council.

Our region has so much potential and I genuinely believe that our best days are ahead, and I know that Andrew will relish the opportunity to lead our community, and our council, for the next four years as Mayor.

While the result is not the one which I had hoped for, I know I can look back on my 15 years of service to the Whitsunday region, first as councillor and then as Mayor, with a sense of pride and achievement.

It's no secret that Council has faced its fair share of challenges over the past four years. I am proud that the Council organisation is more effective, professional and customer-focussed than it was four years ago, and I am especially proud of the work done over the past term to improve our financial position and implement the appropriate processes and systems to ensure that our region's ratepayers are never burdened with the debt which they were in 2012.

In 2012, we had a cash at bank deficit of $8 million and were burdened with $71 million in debt, and our reserves of $26 million were non-existent as they were not cash backed.

Today, we have in excess of $60 million in the bank, we have reduced our debt to $55 million, and we now have cash reserves of approximately $32 million.

Council now has sufficient funds to run the organisation and pay our bills, and maybe even reduce debt further so that the planned Bowen Sewerage Treatment Plant project can commence as swiftly as possible.

I am proud that under my leadership, council was able to successfully deliver five major infrastructure projects concurrently, and that we successfully obtained the funding we required from the Queensland Government to deliver the long-awaited Whisper Bay Boat Ramp and Breakwater project.

The Whitsunday Coast Airport is now firmly on track to achieving international status. This will open up new opportunities for our tourism, agriculture and seafood sectors, and it will enable the Whitsunday region to become a truly global tourist destination.

It's not easy competing against larger councils such as Mackay and Townsville to attract investment to our region, but the presence of our amazing Airport has certainly been an asset for us, and I am sure it will continue to be well into the future.

I want to thank the many residents, business owners, tourism operators, farmers, workers and families who have supported me over the past four years as mayor, and more recently, in the past few months of campaigning.

I am truly humbled to have received more support at this election than I did at the 2012 election, winning more than 5,500 votes and taking upwards of 55 per cent of the primary vote in the towns of Airlie Beach, Cannonvale and Proserpine, and the surrounding district. I have been overwhelmed with the support I have received, both before and after the election.

I want to congratulate the 17 other people who put their names forward at this election. It's certainly not an easy thing to do, and running for council requires a great deal of time, effort, money and confidence.

Each of them should be very proud of themselves, and I particularly congratulate Andrew and the six councillors-elect.

Finally, I want to thank council's workforce for their support and hard work over the past term of council.

It has been a real privilege to work with such a dedicated, professional group of staff, and I appreciate their efforts over the past four years in making tough decisions and working through difficult times to deliver results for our community.

I look forward to taking a well-earned break and spending more time with my husband and family."

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