JENNY Dowell has been returned as mayor of Lismore with an overwhelming 53% of first preference votes, well ahead of her nearest rival Neil Marks who polled just under 22% of the vote.
"I expected it to be much closer and go to preferences," a clearly relieved Mayor Dowell told The Echo.
"You always wonder if you've done enough... (but) it's not just about the campaign, it's about the past four years."
The result seems to be a ringing endorsement for Cr Dowell, and her popularity has pushed up the figures for her Country Labor group, which polled 35% of the first preference votes in the election of councillors. That means councillors Isaac Smith and Ray Houston will be returned, along with a new Country Labor councillor Glenys Ritchie.
"I'm looking forward to having another woman on council," Mayor Dowell said.
Mayor Dowell said she was "very nervous" in the weeks
leading up to the election, but thought the result was an endorsement of her leadership style "and where this council is going".
"I didn't think there was a mood for change, but when you're right in the middle of it, it's hard to tell sometimes...The feedback I got from a lot of people is that 'if it's not broken, don't fix it'. They seem to be happy with the way council is going and most people recognise the constraints local government is under. I think the community has a realistic expectation of what we can achieve together."
At the time of going to print on Wednesday afternoon the Electoral Commission of NSW had not distributed preferences to determine who would take up the other positions on council.
The full results will be available at www.votensw.info today, Thursday, September 13.
Mayor Dowell said she was pleased to have a "progressive" council returned.
"It would be very difficult to be mayor without the support of the majority of councillors," she said.
She also said she was disappointed Cr David Yarnall was not returned.
"He was a hard working councillor. It's a sad loss," she said.