PREFERENCES remain a hot topic amongst local candidates in the South Gippsland Shire Council election race amid claims of broken agreements and alliances. Things are heating up between those fighting for the three seats in the Strzelecki Ward with the release of preferences last week causing some disharmony amongst several candidates. Initially, Cr Bob Newton was informed that David Amor had listed him as his fourth preference which was lower than what Cr Newton thought the two had agreed to. However, Cr Newton said last week there had been a mistake and Mr Amor had listed him third. “I don’t want to say too much on what happened last week but there was a mistake. David actually preferenced me third, not fourth as I was told,” he said. “The preferences are all done now and you just have to get on with it. I think it will work out.” Cr Newton said he was concerned that he and one other candidate had found themselves on the back on the ballot card. “I am not confident by any stretch of the imagination. I am on the back on the ballot sheet with Frank Hirst so my back is up against the wall there,” he said. “I’m preference number two for Andrew McEwen and third for David Amor. I don’t think that there is anything anyone can do now so it is up to the people to make up their own minds.” Cr Newton said he has enjoyed serving the community in the role of councillor for the past 19 year and hopes to continue to do so. “I have been there a long time and I think I have done the right thing by people and you can’t do any more than that.” Cr Newton is not the only candidate to have been left surprised by Mr Amor’s final preferences. Frank Hirst said he had been told by Mr Amor on three separate occasions that he would be listing him third, only to find himself fifth on Mr Amor’s list. “He said he had given me a three and then wished me all the best. I then found out that he had given me a five.” Mr Hirst said that he did not think the issue was a big deal, but given recent coverage in local papers he wanted to set the record straight. “I don’t really think it is a big deal because of the way the preference system works anyway,” Mr Hirst said. “But the point is he told me three times that he had given me a three.” In regards to his own preferencing, Mr Hirst said he formed his order of preferences in line with who he thought he could achieve things with. “I ended up in the position that I thought everyone had preferenced me number three,” Mr Hirst said. “So I decided to sit down and give them a number based on who I think I can genuinely work well with. “I only met Lorraine (Brunt) a month ago but I have spoken with her a bit in that time, a lot more than I have spoken with the other candidates. “As I am sure Lorraine said, we are happy for people to follow our preferences but we would like people to sit down and look at the candidates and select who they think will work in their best interest and the best interest of the community.” The only female candidate Lorraine Brunt says she is also facing a challenge after finding herself preferenced last by three of the six candidates. “Three of the men have put me last and they didn’t even speak with me at all to find out my values on anything. They did not give me the courtesy to discuss anything,” Ms Brunt said. “I find this quite disappointing, maybe it is because I am the only woman standing but I really don’t see myself as being a threat. “I just think because they hadn’t spoken to me, their decision to preference me last wasn’t based on my ideas so I don’t know what that means.” Ms Brunt said her preferences were in part a reflection on those who she thought had the courtesy to speak with her. “The only candidates that had the respect to speak with me were Ian Nicholas and Frank Hirst, so I just went down the page and made my selections,” she said. “I really urge the ratepayers to think seriously and make up their own minds and not necessarily follow the preferences on who the other candidates want to get in. “I think that it is very unfortunate that some of the candidates did not bother to give me the time of day to talk to me. “I was told that we would be spending two days talking with each other about the preferences, but some candidates already had their preferences done before they walked in.” Ms Brunt said she will be focusing on continuing to speak with members of the community in the lead-up to the election. “Obviously with six preferences I am going to have to really step-up my campaign. I will just keep getting out there and talking to people, that’s all I can really do,” she said. David Amor said his preferences were made with the best interests of the local area in mind. “I am very passionate about South Gippsland and the Strzelecki Ward,” Mr Amor said. “And I would really like to see a vast improvement from what has been happening in the area in the past six to eight years. “I see it down this end when I talk to people, and then there are those over Buffalo way who also feel like they have been hard-done-by.” Mr Amor said with six candidates and only three positions on council, it will be a tough battle. “I am really eager and excited about this, and I am hopeful that I can win just like everyone else that is running,” he said. Postal voting packs will begin arriving in mailboxes across the district from today.