New Councillors, New Mayor – Local Government Election Wrap

Vanessa Hall  


THE QUEENSLAND Local Government Elections held on Saturday, March 16 in our region saw Taylor Bunnag elected in Division 8, Maria Suarez returned in Division 9 and at the time of going to print Rosanna Natoli was likely to win the Mayoral campaign.  

Lawyer turned politician, Taylor Bunnag said he was ready to get to work for the division and was happy with the support from the community.  

New Division 8 Councillor Taylor Bunnag with family on election day. 

“Thank you for having confidence in me.” 

“As someone who has grown up here, having the strong endorsement of local people is very meaningful. When I was at the Coolum State School booth on election day, I saw a little boy who was wearing his Coolum soccer uniform, the same one I wore as a kid. He told me his parents had voted for me and it really reinforced that I’ll be making decisions for the future and having grown up here, puts me in a strong position to understand our local priorities.” 

As with all election campaigns, they are not a one-horse race with family and friends always helping out and Taylor extended thanks to his family and supporters.  

“I really need to publicly thank my volunteers for their positivity and energy as well as the voters and everyday people who put their support behind me in little ways by offering me water when I doorknocked or by sending me messages of encouragement.  

“I’d also like to thank the other candidates in Division 8, Kathryn, Tim and Walter for their commitment and dedication – being a candidate is not easy. Finally, I’d like to thank outgoing Division 8 councillor Jason O’Pray for his 12 years of service to our area and for his generosity in already bringing me up to speed on several important community projects in Division 8.”  

Returned Division 9 Councillor Maria Suarez on election day at a polling booth.

In Division 9 Maria Suarez was “honoured” to be returned for another four-year tenure.  

“Many residents stopped to say hello and thank myself and council for assisting them over the last four years. It was a great reminder of how rewarding the role can be and how many people can be touched by the actions of their representative and council – ‘I’m very honoured to have the support of the community and to represent them.” 

Having already been in the job Ms Suarez was keen to let the community know that the next four years will be a critical time for the region with council at the forefront of many big issues.   

“It will be crucial to get the new planning scheme right and I will be encouraging people to understand it and make submissions to ensure we have people’s sentiments captured.” 

Other challenges will be infrastructure including roads and the Olympics and their legacy amongst others, however, Councillor Suarez will continue to make it a priority that the community is informed as best as possible.  

“I will continue to do monthly Councillor Chats and expand upon these to hear from residents to follow up on issues, progress new ideas and ensure everyone is informed on projects, consultation rounds and development applications.” 


Rosanna Natoli who is in the lead at the time of going to print and is likely to become the new Sunshine Coast Mayor. Photos: Contributed

The race to become the new Sunshine Coast Mayor has come down to a close contest between Ashley Robinson and Rosanna Natoli with the final tally to be decided by preferences. At the time of going to print (Tuesday, March 26, 5pm) the unofficial count was 55,668 to Rosanna Natoli and 49,770 to Ashley Robinson.  

Ms Natoli was not yet celebrating despite being in the lead during the entire counting period.  

“It is estimated that about 20 to 25 per cent of voters will have allocated a preference…  

This means that there are potentially around 20,000 preferences to be allocated.” 

“I’m just trying to contain myself whilst this is all going on.  

“If I am elected I’m really looking forward to bringing all of the parts of the coast together and I congratulate both Maria and Taylor and I look forward to working with them both if I am Mayor.”   


Queuing, ballot paper shortages and other related election-day issues will be examined in an expanded in-depth external review commissioned by the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ). 

Premier Steven Miles said that an independent review was being carried out and will ensure that the October State election runs smoothly.  

“We have heard from some of our Queensland communities that voting in this year’s local government elections was far from ideal. 

“Long lines, not enough ballot papers – and other issues that made voting confusing or difficult – are all things that really shouldn’t be happening in 2024 and we owe it to Queenslanders to make sure the ECQ gets this right.” 

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