While seasoned Shellharbour councillors Marianne Saliba and Kellie Marsh were celebrating victory on Sunday, so too was newcomer Nathan Cattell.
Mr Cattell was “beside himself” after nabbing a spot on the next council.
“I’m very humbled to be elected to be able to represent my community,” he told the Mercury on Sunday afternoon. “I’m beside myself to be honest, it still hasn't really sunk in.”
The political first-timer, and manager of the Killalea State Park, wasn’t fazed by the shift away from the Liberals across Illawarra booths.
“There were a few state and federal issues that were raised throughout the election process and it didn’t damage our campaign at all. People were just curious on, I suppose, how we as candidates or as a council were going to support the community with those issues,” he said.
Mr Cattell has spoken out against the NSW Liberal government’s proposed public-private partnership at Shellharbour Hospital.
“That was a key issue. I don’t support the privatisation of hospitals, absolutely not, and I’ll stand by that,” he said.
Cr Saliba – whose Labor ticket got about a third of the overall vote told the Mercury she was “very happy” with the result.
“It certainly puts paid to a lot of negativity we’ve read about on social media,” she said.
“People were saying ‘everyone was against the hub’ but of course, if that was the case, then they wouldn’t have voted for me.”
Labor could have a majority on Shellharbour council, meaning Cr Saliba would likely be returned as mayor.
The incumbent mayor said she “would have been happy to work with whoever gets elected”.
“I hope that the new council will elect me mayor – I’ve started a lot of good things in the city and I would like the opportunity to continue that work,” she said.
Kellie Marsh, who quit the Liberal Party and decided to run as an independent candidate, described her win as “one for the single mums and the underdogs”.
With a quota of 1.32 at Sunday evening’s count, she will definitely be on the next council.