The composition of the new Port Stephens council has been finalized, with outgoing President Ryan Palmer winning his second term as mayor, beating Labor opponent Leah Anderson by 567 votes out of 49,528 votes cast.
The nine remaining board positions will be filled by independents Peter Kafer, Chris Doohan, Steve Tucker and Glen Dunkley, Ms Anderson, Jason Wells, Giacomo Arnott and Peter Francis and Liberal Matt Bailey.
Mayor Palmer took to social media on Monday to thank his supporters.
“With the final results now known, I am extremely honored and truly grateful to the people of Port Stephens for trusting me once again as Mayor of Port Stephens,” he said.
“We have accomplished so much together and with an increase of over 15% in first preference votes from the last election, the people of Port Stephens have shown their support for a progressive and positive council.
“I look forward to working with all of you again. “
Ms Anderson, a first-time candidate, was graceful in defeat.
“It has become evident that I have narrowly failed – barely 0.59% – in my candidacy for mayor,” she said.
“I contacted Ryan Palmer to personally congratulate him on his election and to let him know that I am eager to work with him for the betterment of our community.
“I want to thank the tens of thousands of people who have agreed to support me. As a first-time candidate, I was truly blown away by the extent of support I received.
“I am honored to have been elected East Ward Councilor and look forward to starting to represent our community on Council.
Ms Anderson will join her Labor colleagues on the council with the return of Cr Arnott and Mr Francis to the West Quarter and Mr Wells to the Central Quarter.
“Unlike the negative campaign started by others targeting our team, our goal was to bring Port Stephens Council back to our community,” she said.
“For too long our council has not put the interests of our community first. Given the tight race for mayor, it is clear that the locals are fed up. Almost half of the people of Port Stephens didn’t vote for Ryan Palmer, who should send him a strong message that the status quo is not good enough – our community wants leaders who listen, care and take action. “
Ms Anderson said she was also compelled to voice her concern over the lack of representation of women on the board.
“Of the 10 board positions, nine have gone to men. I will work very hard to make sure this does not happen again.”
Leah Anderson of the Labor Party has conceded defeat to incumbent President Ryan Palmer in the neck-and-neck race to become mayor of Port Stephens.
Cr Palmer, one of five independents on the new board, said Monday he was “extremely honored and truly grateful” that voters re-elected him.
“With a more than 15% increase in first preference votes from the last election, the people of Port Stephens have shown their support for a progressive and positive council,” he said on social media.
Ms Anderson, the only woman elected to the new 10-member council, had a different take on the mayor’s result after coming close to 0.6% of a surprise victory.
“For too long our council has not put the interests of our community first,” she said.
“Given the tight race for mayor, it’s clear the locals are fed up.
“When nearly half of the people in Port Stephens did not vote for Ryan Palmer, it should send him a strong message.
“The status quo is not enough. Our community wants leaders who listen, care and take action.”
Labor has increased its neighborhood representation from one to four. The Liberals will have an adviser.
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