Gilmore MP Joanna Gash has become the Shoalhaven’s first female mayor following a landslide victory at yesterday’s Shoalhaven City Council election.
Mrs Gash secured a record breaking 63 per cent of the mayoral vote, with veteran councillor Greg Watson a distant second on 14 per cent.
With postal votes to be counted and preferences still to be allocated Team Gash has already secured at least six spots on the council.
Last night Mrs Gash celebrated the win with a loyal group of supporters in a small room at the Bomaderry Bowling Club.
The Liberal Federal MP contested the council election as an independent and said among her supporters with her on Saturday night would have been just "a handful" of Liberal Party members.
"You would find very few Liberal Party members here tonight, but I have always had people from across the board offer to come out and help and that has always been important to me."
Mrs Gash said she was very proud to be the Shoalhaven’s first female mayor.
"I hope it encourages other women to stand for council," she said.
"We specifically had a gender mix and an age mix on our tickets, and I believe you need a mix on council to work through issues."
She said the campaign had taken a toll.
"As I said before this was the most personal election I’ve ever been involved with.
"It has not been easy, I have never had more personal attacks in all my time in politics.
"I have broad shoulders ... I think in some cases they went too far for the sake of the political game my opponents chose to play.
"But I have learned lessons, I’ve learned to believe in yourself, believe what you are doing is right and continue to look after the community."
Mrs Gash said she did not see the landslide win as a mandate, "but people have voted for change and we need to provide change".
The Federal MP said she was not expecting a legal challenge to her holding dual roles, but was confident in her position should a challenge be launched.
She said she would continue with her village visits in the northern part of her electorate, but said Ann Sudmalis was now the preselected Liberal candidate "and is out there looking after the northern areas such as Kiama and Shellharbour which is very important so they didn’t miss out".
In the councillor count, in Shoalhaven’s Ward One Team Gash’s John Wells and Lynn Kearney have been elected, ex-councillor Jim McCrudden is set for a return, with the final place to be decided on preferences.
In Ward Two Team Gash’s Jemma Tribe and Clive Robertson are in, with ex-mayor Greg Watson likely to return for his 39th year on council.
In Ward Three Greens Amanda Findley was re-elected and she will be joined by Team Gash’s Allan Baptist and Patricia White and probably Shoalhaven Independent candidate Mark Kitchener