Manjimup Shire president Paul Omodei has breathed a sigh of relief after finishing on top in the local election on Saturday. The Shire leader came out on top in Manjimup’s central ward against deputy Shire president Jayde Darin after securing 830 votes out of 1477 cast. Cr Omodei said although he was nervous going into election night, it was “very gratifying” to keep his seat on the council and he was thankful to all who had voted for him. He said he was concerned issues like the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme and the COVID-19 vaccination incentive program could have torpedoed his chances. “I was not confident of winning, but I was very pleased with the result in the end,” he said. Cr Omodei said the next two years would be crucial for the Shire and he felt he was the right man for the job, especially in regard to road maintenance, timber and aged care. The other successful Central ward candidate, Donelle Buegge, was elected in her first local government election with 803 votes, beating deputy Shire president Jayde Darin on 769 votes. Mrs Beugge said she felt the result was a “pretty clear message” to the council from the residents of Manjimup Shire. “Although the voting turnout was low ... I think it is pretty indicative of how the Shire feels and how the people feel,” she said. Ms Darin said the loss was “disappointing” but she was more than happy with achieving what she set out to do and was “proud” of her contribution to the Shire. “When I reflect on it, I have done a lot of what I set out to do when I first ran in 2017 ... I can walk away with my head pretty held high, I got stuck in and achieved the things I wanted to do so I am proud of that,” she said. Ms Darin said she was especially proud of how she and other female councillors could show how to successfully juggle personal and professional lives. “I’m really proud Cr (Wendy) Eiby and I showed that being a mum of school-aged kids you can still have a seat at the table and make a real difference,” she said. “I’m glad more young women can imagine themselves having influence in this community, we now also have Cr (Susan) Dawson Vidovich and Cr Buegge joining Cr Eiby to keep showing it can be done.” In the West ward, Cr Murray Ventris destroyed the competition to reclaim his seat after more than doubling his closest opponents’ votes. Cr Ventris secured 365 votes, beating Wade De Campo (152) and Julian Sharp (121). He said he was nervous going into the election but now felt a greater sense of responsibility after such an emphatic win. “It was three candidates in a three-horse race, so I appreciate all the support that was given to me by the West ward electors,” he said. “I have been given the opportunity to serve the community for another four years, so it is a responsibility that I will take seriously, and the result probably gives me increased responsibility now that I have received that much support.” The East ward was a similar story after Cr Cliff Winfield was re-elected following a sizeable win over his competitors. Cr Winfield had 134 votes followed by Dean Phillips (76), Bill Smart (63) and Elizabeth Sonter (44). He said he was “pleased” with the result and was thankful to be re-elected. “It was very hard to pick whether it was going to be a decision on people’s popularity or their efficiency or whether it was against the council in general or whether it was against dams or whether it was against vaccinations, so I am pretty pleased to be grandstanded, thanks,” he said. Cr Wendy Eiby was elected unopposed in her Coastal ward and fresh face Jennifer Dianne Willcox was elected unopposed in the South ward. The newly-formed Manjimup Shire council will meet on Thursday to swear in new councillors and vote on the next Shire president and deputy Shire president.