LIBERAL David Southwick was delivered a ringing endorsement by voters in Caulfield last weekend, receiving close to 60 per cent of the first preference votes.
The former bar mitzvah and wedding DJ strongly defeated his opponent, Labor’s Heather Abramson, in his quest to take over from retiring MP Helen Shardey.
“I was hoping for a two to three per cent increase, but nowhere near that result,” he said of the more than five per cent swing in his favour.
Despite the resounding victory, the businessman remained gracious, congratulating both Abramson and departing Labor MLA Jennifer Huppert on their campaigns.
“It was a very civilised contest,” he said.
To those who monitored his well-organised, well-funded campaign, it was no surprise Southwick came out on top in the safe Liberal seat.
With 60 real-estate sized boards and 100 smaller signs dotted around the small electorate in the weeks leading up to polling day, voters could not help but recognise Southwick’s face.
On election day, 300 volunteers promoted the Southwick name. To reward them, the founder of events group ICE, sent a coffee cart and refreshments around to all the polling booths.
“I’ve apparently set the benchmark for campaigning,” he said modestly.
“It’s the one or two percenters that make the difference,” he continued. “People rang me or emailed me with an issue and within 10 or 15 minutes I’d get back to them. They didn’t expect that.”
Asked whether he thinks he can sustain the long hours and the focus on the personal now that he has been elected a member of the Government, he replied, “I’ve got a pretty high work ethic.”
And while “it is a dream come true to live and grow up in an area and then represent it”, he had not dared believe the Coalition would win Government.
But from this week on, that’s all in the past.
“We’re jumping straight into it now. Setting things up, tidying up and sending thank you letters.”
PHOTO: David Southwick with supporters at his victory function. Photo: Peter Haskin