Shellharbour's Mayor and Deputy Mayor will again bump heads over the city's top job as political jostling continues ahead of next week's mayoral vote.
While politics has taken a back seat in the elected council's first year, competition to lead the city has now escalated as Liberal Mayor Kellie Marsh and Labor Deputy Mayor Marianne Saliba both vie for crucial independent votes.
Unlike in Wollongong, where the mayor is popularly elected, Shellharbour's councillors choose the mayor themselves every 12 months.
On a seven-member council with three Labor and two Liberal members, the balance of power lies with independents Peter Moran and Helen Stewart.
Both backed Councillor Marsh for the job after last year's council elections, but Councillor Moran has said he would support Liberal and Labor candidates at some point in the council's five-year term.
"[Councillors Marsh and Saliba] both desperately want the job, there's no doubt about that," Cr Moran said.
He said he had discussed the matter with both mayoral hopefuls but was yet to make up his mind.
Cr Marsh said Cr Saliba had been campaigning for the position since the council was elected.
"The Deputy Mayor has been very proactive for 12 months campaigning," she said.
". . . I'm just looking forward to hopefully continuing the stability of the council."
However, Cr Stewart said the Mayor had been equally "proactive".
She said neither Cr Marsh nor Cr Saliba had directly approached her about her vote and she was yet to make up her mind who to back.
Cr Stewart also said each councillor's position on whether the organisation should reimburse her legal costs from its infamous 2007 court case against her would not influence her vote.
"It definitely won't. At the end of the day I was elected by the residents to look after their best interests, not my best interests," Cr Stewart said.
Cr Saliba did not see the need to comment on Cr Marsh's claim.
"I've got a job to do and that's to represent the people of Shellharbour City.
"And on the 18th of September the mayoral election is a decision for the council."