Gordon Bradbery spent a meagre $2554 on election material to convince Wollongong ratepayers to elect him lord mayor last year, funding figures show.
Political donation returns for the 2011-12 financial year show Cr Bradbery spent 6¢ on campaign flyers and advertising for every vote he received.
The sum was significantly less than some of his cashed-up rivals, including former Wollongong City Council general manager Rod Oxley, who shelled out $34,480 in the lead-up to the September 3 election.
Mr Oxley netted just 2840 votes - which worked out at a spend of $12 per vote.
He maintained he had "no regrets" in running for lord mayor when contacted by the Mercury recently, adding he had given it his all and was not likely to do it again.
"I thought in order to give myself a good chance I should do some advertising and marketing," Mr Oxley said.
"It [the money] all builds up; candidates didn't get any different rates, you pay whatever the advertising rate is."
Cr Bradbery acknowledged his high-profile campaign for the state seat of Wollongong six months before the council vote had been advantageous in running for lord mayor.
"My political profile had already been established early in the year and the momentum carried on," he said.
"I think I got across the line because I had a good profile."
Thirroul planning consultant Shaun Prince also spent big during his Wollongong lord mayor and ward one councillor campaign, chalking up more than $11,000 on newspaper advertisements and signage.
Mr Prince received the five reportable political donations (donations of more than $1000), totalling $8000.
Those who contributed to his ultimately unsuccessful campaign were former Wollongong lord mayor Alex Darling ($3000), Ray White Woonona ($2000) and Susan Miller, John Rowlands and Steve McAneny (each gave $1000).
Failed Shellharbour candidate Shane Cook received five donations from Shellharbour City Church totalling $6686, and $1000 from Mount Warrigal couple Andrew and Nikki Gibson.