Jo-Anne romps home to victory

THE UUP romped home to victory in last-week's by-election coming in at more than three-to-one ahead of its nearest rival.

Jo-Anne Dobson celebrated an emphatic victory in the unionist dominated Lurgan Ward.

She polled almost 64 per cent of the 3,903 eligible votes, trouncing nearest rival TUV man David Calvert's 752 votes.

Turnout of 23.6 per cent was slightly higher than predictions, although still low.

At an early stage of Thursday's count at the civic centre it was already clear Jo-Anne would take the seat.

She thanked those who voted for her as well as the support she had received from her party and family.

She said it was a privilege and an honour to become a member of the council, adding: "This shows the UUP is on the up.

"I will serve everyone in Craigavon from whatever political shade with honesty and integrity."

Sir Reg Empey, UUP party leader, was at the civic centre to congratulate his newest elected representative.

Speaking to the 'MAIL' Jo-Anne said her first order of business was the regeneration of Lurgan, she added: "I will be working hard to encourage new business into the town."

TUV candidate David Calvert said he did not expect to win - despite visiting over 5,000 homes across the area.

He added: "Being a small party, it was not going to be easy to win this contest.

"However, it is a positive sign to see my own personal vote increased given the small turnout."

This is the third election defeat for the businessman, running last time as an independent in 2005.

When asked if he was to contest another election, he said: "The party will return and we will have councillors and an Assembly member elected in the coming elections."

Mr Calvert said the DUP had a case to answer to the Craigavon ratepayer.

He went on: "For the DUP to have caused this election, then pull out of the contest and urge people not to vote is a strange one.

"We had an agreement with the party for the co-option of this seat following a reciprocal agreement in Ballymoney and they did not keep to the spirit of that arrangement.

"We have been done out of a seat and the ratepayers have had to payout some 30,000 for this unnecessary by-election."

The SDLP's Pat McDade and Sinn Fein's Liam Mackle thanked the voters, their parties and families for their support.

They extended their congratulations to Jo-Anne and wished her well.

The by-election was called following disagreement among councillors on a co-option after the resignation of TUV Councillor Mark Russell.

The full result: Jo-Anne Dobson (UUP) 2,494; David Calvert (TUV) 752; Liam Mackle (SF) 401; Pat McDade (SDLP) 256. Quota: 1,952; 3,903 valid votes with 33 declared invalid.

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