Gilmore MP Joanna Gash says her campaign to be the next Shoalhaven mayor hasn't been the toughest she's been involved in, but it is definitely the most personal.
Mrs Gash said personal attacks started after she rejected an approach from former mayor Greg Watson to stand on her ticket.
"He wanted to stand on my ticket as a councillor, in exchange for him not standing for mayor and I said there were no deals."
She said radio and television commercials from Cr Watson supporters personally attacking her were designed to distract from the failures of others.
Cr Watson, who was first elected to Shoalhaven council in 1974 and is standing for mayor again, confirmed discussions with Mrs Gash had taken place, but said it was Mrs Gash who had initiated them two years ago.
"Mrs Gash approached me two years ago and asked me to stand with her and said 'I want you to be my deputy mayor'," Cr Watson said.
"After she stood down as the preselected candidate [for Gilmore] we had [another] discussion," Cr Watson said. "My main issue was we had mutual friends, supporters and polling booth workers. I said if we go head-to-head we'd end up splitting up a lot of friendships - and that is what has happened.
"She indicated she would be going back on what she originally offered me.
"It never got to that point where a deal would be made, but I said we'd be better off co-operating and that is the dinky-di truth."
Mrs Gash denied she had ever made Cr Watson an offer to be her deputy mayor. "That is definitely not true. Two years ago ... I hadn't decided what I was doing."
Also standing is Greens councillor Amanda Findley, Shoalhaven Action Campaign's John Fergusson and serving deputy mayor Andrew Guile.