Welcome to our live coverage of the 2016 Gladstone Regional Council election. We'll have all the latest results and breaking news as it happens throughout the afternoon and evening.
The count started on councillor votes at 10.30 this morning.
LIVE COVERAGE HERE
IT might not be official yet, but with 59.27 per cent of the vote there's no chance Matt Burnett won't be named Gladstone Regional Council's new mayor after last night's landslide victory.
At the end of counting last night Matt Burnett had 17,457 votes.
The closest was Gail Sellers on 6544 votes, or 22.22 per cent, followed by Michelle Wagner with 5450 votes, 18.51 per cent.
Almost 1000 people threw their vote away by not filling out the ballot paper properly, listed as informal votes on the Electoral Commission Queensland's website.
While there are more than 40,000 voters registered in the Gladstone Regional Council area, only 30,401 mayoral ballot papers have been counted with postal votes outstanding.
That means it may take another week before the final result is declared, however we are unlikely to see a different trend emerge.
Counting will begin on councillor votes today.
LIKELY mayor Matt Burnett has said he is looking forward to making changes as soon as the result is declared by Electoral Commission Queensland.
"As soon as they declare the poll I'll be looking forward to making some changes," he said.
He said it was "pretty good" finally ascending to the top job after years of service on the council.
"It's pretty good obviously. 16 years on council and now finally the community have decided that they want me as their next mayor, so I'm very happy about that.
He said he was confident from the beginning of the count, with an obvious trend in his favour.
"I was actually at the pre-polling booth watching them come in ... so I got a pretty good idea that things were going to be pretty good by the end of the night.
MATT Burnett appears to be on the verge of being declared the next mayor of Gladstone, taking 17,457 of the 30,401 votes counted tonight.
Gail Sellers collecting 6544 and Michelle Wagner behind on 5450.
Electoral Commission Queensland has not yet confirmed whether Mr Burnett has been declared the winner, despite finishing counting at 10pm.
PHOTOS: Burnett's celebration
Matt Burnett declares victory in the race for Mayor
WATCH: Matt Burnett declares victory
Supporters at the Matt Burnett post-election party say they weren't surprised with the result.
About 100 people gathered at the Brothers Junior Shed on Doug Burnett Dr to congratulate Matt Burnett on what appears to be a landslide victory.
COUNTING is expecting to finished within minutes.
Matt Burnett is currently celebrating with his supporters at Brothers Football Club after declaring victory this evening.
With Mr Burnett enjoying such a strong lead -- latest figures show him out in front with 59.2% of the vote, while Gail Sellers is coming second with 22.57% -- we can expect to hear who our new mayor is tonight.
More to come ...
WHILE it appears at this stage that Matt Burnett will be our next mayor, the winner should be officially declared within an hour.
Counting stops at 10pm.
More to come ...
THE public has spoken.
That's the view of mayoral candidate Michelle Wagner who isn't going out of her way to watch the results tonight, but has caught the general gist from friends.
She's not surprised and said she was "humbled" with the level of support she'd received.
"It's unbelievable for someone with a low profile," Ms Wagner said.
The latest figures, as at 8.30pm, show Michelle Wagner only 1070 votes behind Gail Sellers.
"The public has spoken. I hope Matt achieves all the things he has promised everyone in this term of government," she said.
"Even though I tried my hardest, I knew it would be a challenge. Still I'm very happy with the result and who knows what's next from here."
THE latest results show Matt Burnett has 13,641 votes.
Gail Sellers is well behind on 5174, with Wagner close behind her with 4105.
However the Electoral Commission Queensland is yet to officially declare the result.
MATT Burnett continues to extend his lead after declaring victory.
He currently has over 59 per cent of the vote, well ahead of Gail Sellers at just over 22 per cent and Michelle Wagner, who has over 17 per cent.
MATT Burnett has declared victory in the race for mayor.
Glenn Butcher congratulated Mr Burnett in front of a crowd of supporter.
"I would like to officially congratulate the new mayor of Gladstone," Mr Butcher.
WATCH: Gail Sellers says "I'm finished"
MATT Burnett is well ahead in the race for mayor, taking nearly 60 per cent of the vote (4397).
Gail Sellers has just 23.2 per cent and Michelle Wagner has just 17.42 per cent.
MAYOR GAIL Sellers has said she has resigned to the fact that she has probably lost.
She said while it was still early in the count, there appears to be a continuing trend of rival Matt Burnett taking big wins.
"I'm finished," she said.
"Thanks for the good times."
WATCH: At the scene of the count
BURNETT has won every single count so far, continuing a trend which is certain to worry his rivals.
Tannum Sands has gone to Matt Burnett who won 551 votes.
Sellers won 292 and Wagner won 116.
BURNETT is continuing a trend of winning, taking Kin Kora with 1117 votes.
Sellers won just 471 and Wagner won 444.
BURNETT is well ahead in the count with 58.72 per cent of votes (1273).
Sellers comes in next with just over 26 per cent of the vote, or 577 votes, and Wagner has won just 14.6 per cent (318).
BURNETT is dominating the count, taking 476 votes in the Agnes Water pre-poll.
Sellers has taken just 88 votes at Agnes Water, while Wagner has collected 104 there.
Despite the bookies backing Sellers over Wagner, the underdog has beaten Sellers in counting at both polls so far.
MATT Burnett and his campaign manager, and Leo Zussino are scrutineers at Central Office where votes are being counted.
MATT Burnett is off to a flying start in the voting count, collecting 112 of the votes so far in the Miriam Vale pre-poll count.
It was well-ahead of Gail Sellers at 34 and Michelle Wagner at 37.
IT won't be long now before residents find out who their mayor will be for the next four years.
But for those who are impatient; we have taken our own exit poll.
The results are not scientific and may not in any way reflect the real election outcome.
We asked 100 voters at three different Gladstone polling booths if they would share with us which mayoral candidate won their vote.
Unsurprisingly a few people weren't up for revealing their vote, however many were happy to share.
Out of those 100 people, Matt Burnett was the clear winner; 64 people told us they had voted for him, 27 for Gail Sellers and nine for Michelle Wagner.
However, the latest figures from the Electoral Commission of Queensland show more than 40,000 people enrolled to vote in this election, so 100 is miniscule sample.
The polling booths close at 6pm and that's when counting starts.
If there's a clear winner, voters are likely to know who will be named mayor by about 7pm or 8pm.
The results for councillors could take up to two weeks to finish counting due to postal votes still arriving, however there could be a reasonable indication by tomorrow.
It's just five hours now until polling booths close. The Observer has visited a few polling booths around the region this morning and - taking a break from some of the 'major issues' - we've put together a list on where you will find the best variety of snacks and a rundown on the parking.
In short, Gladstone South State School definitely has the best variety with a cake stall and sausage sizzle.
The standard price for a sausage seems to be $2.
9.24AM: Polling booths across the Gladstone Region are open for the 2016 council elections.
Three mayoral and 21 councillor candidates have been campaigning for more than a month but who makes up the next Gladstone Regional Council all comes down to today.
It could get wet at the polling booths late this afternoon and we're not talking about tears of joy, or sadness, from the candidates.
Where you can vote:
Voting late? Make sure you know your candidates: