LEO Hauville has been elected Kempsey Shire's new mayor.
The NSW Electoral Commission virtual tally room results on December 20 show Mr Hauville, who contested the December 4 council elections for the mayoral role only, won the position with 51.54 per cent of the vote, or just 387 votes.
Preferences got him across the line ahead of outgoing mayor Liz Campbell who secured 48.46 per cent of the vote.
Mrs Campbell, born and educated in Kempsey Shire, was elected to council in 2008 and appointed mayor in 2011. She became the region's first popularly elected mayor in 2012 when she was re-elected.
Mr Hauville was elected to Kempsey Shire Council in 2016.
The race for the mayoral position has been neck and neck since vote counting started with Mrs Campbell holding a narrow lead all the way until the preference count was finalised.
The final count can, however, be contested if a candidate chooses.
Mr Hauville said the community has voted for change.
"I'm really pleased so many people decided they needed a change and a new mayor and a new team who will bring some changes, including more community involvement in the decisions of council," Mr Hauville said.
Mr Hauville said development, and its impacts on communities, is high on the agenda and making sure future growth aligns with what has been determined in each village character statement.
There were 22,744 residential and non-residential electors enrolled to vote in Kempsey Shire.
Eight councillors will be elected to the council.
The distribution of preferences in the councillor contest, set down for Wednesday, December 22, will determine the final composition of the elected body.
To the south, Peta Pinson has been re-elected mayor for Port Macquarie-Hastings with 71.47 per cent of the vote, while to the north Rhonda Hoban was re-elected mayor of Nambucca Valley with 68.27 per cent of the vote.
Steve Allan has taken the mayoral role from Dominic King in Bellingen with 66.19 per cent of the vote.
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